Crime

Governor Jared Polis Grants Another 1,351 Pardons for Marijuana Possession

Then-Congressman Jared Polis touring a grow in 2018.
Then-Congressman Jared Polis touring a grow in 2018. Kenzie Bruce
Social-justice advocates had been wondering when Governor Jared Polis would get around to using the power he'd been granted by the Colorado Legislature and issue pardons for those who'd been convicted of possession of between 1 and 2 ounces of marijuana.

Now they have their answer. On December 30, Polis granted 1,351 pardons for people who'd been convicted of that level of possession in Colorado.

“Adults can legally possess marijuana in Colorado, just as they can beer or wine. It’s unfair that 1,351 additional Coloradans had permanent blemishes on their record that interfered with employment, credit and gun ownership," said Polis in announcing the pardons. "But today we have fixed that by pardoning their possession of small amounts of marijuana that occurred during the failed prohibition era.”

On May 20, Polis signed into law House Bill 1090, which increased the amount of marijuana that adults 21 and older in Colorado can legally possess from 1 to 2 ounces. That measure built off HB 1424, which the legislature had passed the year before and authorized the governor to grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana.

In late 2020, Polis issued over 2,730 automatic pardons for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana.
He said he was waiting for the law to be updated to approve possession of up to 2 ounces before he issued pardons for those who'd been convicted in Colorado of possessing between 1 and 2 ounces.

The individuals who received these convictions did not need to apply for pardons; they were issued automatically using Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. Those who are unsure if a conviction has been cleared can request confirmation of a pardon on the Colorado Bureau of Investigations website. Last week, a pardon form had accidentally gone live early on that site.

These pardons do not impact convictions for marijuana possession on the federal or municipal levels.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun