DENVER (KDVR) — A new law says Coloradans of legal age can now have up to 2 ounces of marijuana, and Gov. Jared Polis said he plans to issue more pardons for people convicted of the former crime.
The law took effect as soon as Polis signed the bill Thursday morning. In addition to bumping possession limits from 1 to 2 ounces, it also streamlines and expands a person’s ability to seal past cannabis convictions.
“For doing something that is fully legal today, they might have something on their record — and of course, that’s disproportionately people of color — that might get in the way of them getting loans or leases or licenses or jobs or mortgages or many other things,” Polis said.
The bill, HB21-1090, passed the House 45-19 and the Senate 23-11.
For past convictions, the new law requires the court to seal a case for possessing up to 2 ounces if the person can show they haven’t been convicted of a crime since.
It also allows a person convicted of class 3 felony marijuana cultivation to petition to have their conviction record sealed.
Polis and the bill’s Democratic sponsors, Rep. Alex Valdez and Sen. Julie Gonzales — both of Denver — said the law aimed to build on last year’s legislation that allowed for mass pardons of people with convictions for up to 2 ounces of marijuana possession.
“We believe it’s going to help folks that have these convictions move on with their life,” Valdez said at the bill-signing.
Polis issued 2,732 pardons a few months after that law took effect, but it was still illegal for Coloradans to have more than an ounce of cannabis.
“Now, we will be able to look at using that pardon authority, which we plan to do as soon as it’s drawn up in the next month or two,” Polis said.
Gonzales said the law was crafted “to ensure that we are respecting the will of the Colorado voters when they passed Amendment 64,” the 2012 initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in the state.
Michael Diaz-Rivera was 19 years old when he was arrested and caught with two different bags of marijuana. He said the amount in his possession totaled less than a half ounce, but he was charged with intent to distribute, carrying a felony charge. While he isn’t sure whether this would help him, he believes it will help others.
“I’m really just hopeful that this makes it better for those that are younger than me, those that might not have the resources that I have, so they don’t have to go through the stuff I went through,” Diaz-Rivera said.
Polis said legislators worked on the bill with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Public Safety.