Colorado: Pending Legislation Provides Governor Expanded Authority to Pardon Marijuana Offenders

Legislation before Democratic Gov. Jared Polis provides the office with expanded powers to pardon those with past marijuana convictions.

Language in House Bill 1424, which seeks to facilitate greater diversity and social equity within the retail cannabis industry, permits the office of the Governor to “grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana without an application and without seeking the comment of the District Attorney and judges for those cases.”

While the Governor’s office already possesses the authority to issue pardons in certain circumstances, this measure expands those powers so that the Governor can do so unilaterally for persons with minor marijuana convictions.

Legislation (HB 1266) previously enacted by the state legislature in 2017 permits those with misdemeanor cannabis convictions to petition the courts to have their records sealed.

Other provisions in the pending legislation would remove the prohibition on those with past felony convictions for marijuana-related activities from seeking industry licenses, among other changes to facilitate greater social equity within the retail cannabis space.

The Governor’s press secretary has previously gone on record to say that “the administration is supportive of this bill and looks forward to seeing it pass.”