The Polis effect

by DGO Staff

How Colorado’s governor has been on the forefront of groundbreaking cannabis reform

Since its legalization in 2014, Colorado’s cannabis industry has been soaring, reaping tremendous economic benefits for the state and transforming the lives of countless individuals. The recent enactment of House Bill 1090 marks a significant milestone in Colorado’s journey toward a more equitable and progressive approach to marijuana possession laws, solidifying its position as a trailblazer in cannabis policy reforms.

The figures speak for themselves — Colorado’s cannabis industry has been on an unstoppable trajectory, crossing the astounding $10.5 billion mark in total sales. The first quarter of 2021 alone saw marijuana sales surpassing $560 million, a testament to the industry’s robust growth. The tax revenue generated from this thriving market has been a boon for the state, amassing a staggering $1.7 billion. This revenue has been channeled into various sectors, including public schools, infrastructure projects, and local government programs, enriching the lives of its citizens.

Governor Jared Polis has been at the forefront of these groundbreaking reforms. Recognizing the evolving perception and acceptance of marijuana possession, he championed House Bill 1090, which has now doubled the legal limit for marijuana possession for adults aged 21 and above. This means that adults can now legally possess up to two ounces of marijuana for recreational use without facing penalties, expanding personal free-doms for responsible users.

Furthermore, Governor Polis demonstrated compassion and empathy by granting pardons to 2,732 individuals who previously had convictions for possessing an ounce of marijuana or less. He astutely recognized that these minor convictions were unfairly hindering people’s success in life, unjustly perpetuating the cycle
of hardship. By granting pardons, these individuals can now break free from the shackles of their past convictions and enjoy a fresh start.

The record-clearing process goes beyond simple possession cases. It extends to those convicted of Class 3 marijuana cultivation felonies and individuals charged with growing between 12 and 25 plants, provided they lacked a medical marijuana card and authorization for an extended plant count. This move is essential in addressing the imbalances in the criminal justice system and rectifying the disproportionate punishment for minor offenses.

While the bill brings immense benefits, there are some necessary conditions to ensure fairness and legality. Former offenders must personally apply to the courts, and those with criminal records post their marijuana convictions may undergo a case-by-case review. The process will follow local court systems, and district attorney approval is not required. The intention is to streamline the record-clearing process while upholding due diligence.

The positive implications of House Bill 1090 are profound. It not only allows individuals to move forward from their past convictions, unburdened by a criminal record for actions now deemed legal, but it also alleviates the stigma associated with cannabis use. By eliminating the barriers that hinder access to loans, leases, licenses, jobs, and other opportunities, the bill ensures that individuals have a fair chance to rebuild their lives.

Governor Polis celebrated this milestone, emphasizing that the bill is a significant step forward in criminal justice reform. He highlighted the disproportionate impact of past convictions on people of color, acknowledging that they have been disproportionately affected, further exacerbating systemic inequalities. With House Bill 1090, Colorado aims to break down these barriers and foster a more inclusive and progressive society.

Colorado’s proactive stance on can-nabis policy reform sets an inspiring example for other states to follow. States like Nevada, Illinois, and Washington have already taken notable steps in automatically pardoning or clearing records for low-level marijuana possession offenses following legalization. This collective effort signifies a nationwide commitment to rectifying the injustices of the past and embracing a more compassionate and rational approach to marijuana laws.
In conclusion, the legalization of cannabis in Colorado has been an unequivocal success story, powering unprecedented economic growth and social progress. House Bill 1090 stands as a beacon of hope for those affected by past convictions, providing them with a path to redemption and opportunity. As other states take inspiration from Colorado’s groundbreaking policies, the nation moves closer to a future that cherishes personal freedoms, upholds justice, and fosters a more inclusive society.


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