Dear Stoner: Why is Colorado so late to marijuana expungement? We started this legalization thing.
Dear Chronic Offender: Because our lawmakers and law enforcement officials have been a bunch of yellow bellies who lack true support for cannabis legalization and those affected by the War on Drugs — but at least they’re finally feeling pressure now that other states are far surpassing us in pot reform. Last February, San Francisco’s district attorney began automatically expunging around 9,000 low-level pot convictions that occurred before California approved recreational legalization. The day recreational cannabis became legal in Illinois, the governor there said he plans to automatically expunge thousands of past pot convictions.
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Both Denver and Boulder implemented record-sealing efforts in early 2019, but both programs require past offenders to apply. Neither offer full expungement, either, and possibly as a result, the two cities haven’t reached eighty successful cases between them. A bill was expected in the state legislature last year to address expungement across Colorado, but it never appeared. Lawmakers are vowing to introduce that bill this session, though questions remain as to whether the proposal will call for record-sealing or full expungement, as well as whether the actions would be automatic or require application. We’ll keep our eyes on the issue, no matter how glazed they look.
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