Governor Polis is pardoning marijuana convictions: Here’s what you need to know

by Amanda Push

2020 is finally pulling in some good news. As of October 1, Governor Jared Polis automatically pardoned 2,732 marijuana convictions, according to Westword.

Here’s a breakdown of the pardon:

• House Bill 1424 allows for Polis to pardon convictions of up to two ounces of marijuana.

• This recent pardon only extended to convictions involving up to one ounce.

• The pardon extends as far back as 50 years.

• It only applies to state courts — not municipal.

• The pardon is automatic. It requires no action from those who are impacted.

What this means for those who have been pardoned is that this could at least partially remove the stigma those with records involving marijuana charges are facing when it comes to getting jobs or a loan.

“It’s off their records. If they have a background check at work or want a concealed-weapons permit or a student loan, this will no longer hold anybody back,” Polis said. “And it’s also symbolically important, because it shows that as a state and nation, we’re coming to terms with the incorrect discriminatory laws of the past that penalized people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

While nearly 3,000 pardons sounds like a lot, here’s a few numbers to offer some context. In 2018 alone, the ACLU estimated that in Colorado 4,700 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Consider that number over the span of 50 years and the impact of recent pardons seems a bit trivial (though not to those 2,732 individuals). However, Polis is limited to pardoning those who were convicted of doing something that the state no longer rules as illegal. He also pointed out that not all crimes involving marijuana can be considered equal.

“The way we hold people accountable for the past should reflect the current law,” he said. “If there are further changes to laws around marijuana, we would also look to make sure people are not penalized for doing something in the past that’s legal today. But obviously, you can’t sell marijuana without being an official dispensary.”

“There are a lot of guardrails on marijuana, appropriately, just as there are on alcohol and tobacco,” Polis concluded, “and if you’re violating something that’s still illegal, then it not only wouldn’t be a pardon, it’d be a charge going forward.”

To check if you’ve received a pardon, visit comarijuanapardons.com.

Amanda Push

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