Colorado: New Law Expands Governor’s Authority to Pardon Those with Marijuana Convictions

Denver, CO: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation into law on Tuesday providing the Governor’s Office with expanded clemency powers for those with marijuana convictions on their records.

Under the new law, the office of the Governor may “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 possessed 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.

The Governor can begin unilaterally issuing pardons in 90 days.

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 legislation (House Bill 1424) 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.

“My office in the Marijuana Enforcement Division is making equity a priority in engaging stakeholders around this topic because, for too long, the consequences of not having equity across too many areas of society – cannabis being one – are simply too severe,” Gov. Polis said.

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator.