Activism

Drug Record-Sealing Clinic In Wake of Colorado's New Psychedelics Law

Anyone with a drug conviction in Colorado is welcome to apply, but convictions connected to violence and other certain crimes could be ineligible.
Anyone with a drug conviction in Colorado is welcome to apply, but convictions connected to violence and other certain crimes could be ineligible. Brandon Marshall
With the passage of Proposition 122, Colorado decriminalized the use of certain psychedelics, but the new law doesn't automatically wipe away past convictions for the use of natural drugs,

Now, just two weeks after Governor Jared Polis certified the provisions of Prop 122 — legalizing medical psilocybin use and decriminalizing DMT, ibogaine and mescaline in Colorado, a Denver-based law firm is offering free record-sealing services for past drug convictions.

Hosted by law firm Vicente Sederberg, the NAACP Denver and marijuana nonprofit the Color of Cannabis, the clinic will be held Saturday, January 7, at Spaces Ballpark. According to Sara Woodson, founder of the Color of Cannabis, it was important to hold the event while Prop 122 was still fresh on people's minds.

"It's sort of a celebratory record-sealing clinic, and it's for all drug charges — but drugs only," she explains. "The first one we had went very well, but we had about thirty people in there and only two had drug convictions."

Woodson has held record-sealing clinics with NAACP Denver and Vicente Sederberg before, focusing on marijuana-related convictions. The Color of Cannabis provides resources for marijuana entrepreneurs from communities impacted by the War on Drugs; past drug convictions are common roadblocks for aspiring marijuana business owners, as well as anyone seeking a job or mortgage loan, or filling out any other application that requires a background check. 

State laws have been implemented in recent years that soften drug possession penalties and expand marijuana possession limits and record-sealing rights; in 2020 and 2021, Polis even issued pardons for anyone convicted at the state level for possession of one and then two ounces of marijuana. However, being eligible for record-sealing or even a governor's pardon doesn't mean a record is automatically cleared.

"You still have to file the paperwork and a motion for the record to be sealed, even if you were pardoned," Woodson says. "And if there are multiple charges, the attorney has a duty to pull the entire record, and that can take a longer time."

Getting a record sealed for qualified charges — drug charges connected to violent crimes aren't eligible — can take anywhere from three to six months and cost up to $500 in court and attorney fees. Although the entire process won't be completed in a day, those who attend the January 7 clinic can get the sealing done for free, Woodson says, as long as their drug convictions occurred within the State of Colorado and meet a few other provisions.

"Things around marijuana are going to be simpler. It's when there are other drugs that things get more complicated. Not all drugs convictions are sealable, either, if there is child abuse, domestic violence or DUIs attached," she notes.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, the City of Denver and a handful of drug-policy reform groups have held record-sealing clinics, to varied success. If the January 7 clinic has a decent turnout, Woodson hopes to hold another around the same time next year.

The record-sealing clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, January 7, at Spaces Ballpark, 2301 Blake Street, Suite 100. Call 720-840-7576 or email [email protected] for more information, and get the process started by filling out a brief questionnaire about your convictions.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell

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