Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday that saw around 3,000 marijuana inmates granted clemency.
Feature photo source: Unsplash
Polis signed the order immediately the bill he passed a few months ago in favor of granting clemency to convicts who were in possession one ounce of marijuana took effect.
“We are finally cleaning up some of the inequities of the past by pardoning 2,732 convictions for Coloradans who simply had an ounce of marijuana or less. It’s ridiculous how being written up for smoking a joint in the 1970s has followed some Coloradans throughout their lives and gotten in the way of their success,” Polis said.
“Today we are taking this step toward creating a more just system and breaking down barriers to help transform people’s lives as well as coming to terms with one aspect of the past, failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”
The Future of Marijuana Convicts and The Social Equity Bill
About four months ago, various lawmakers led by Denver Representative James Coleman sent a social equity bill to Governor Polis’ desk. Industry experts immediately predicted a future shift in the state’s marijuana dynamics after Polis signed the bipartisan bill into order.
Champions of the Social Equity Bill
The social equity bill authorizes the Governor to grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. Reps. Leslie Herod and Jonathan Singer also championed for the passing of this legislation. The new law went into effect this month and Jared wasted no time into walking the talk.
“For decades now the Black community has been disproportionately criminalized, because of marijuana, while others have profited,” Coleman said. “We’ve needed to act on this injustice and disparity for decades, and there are people standing here who have been speaking, acting, advocating and pushing for this very moment for decades. This is the first of many actions that must be taken to have racial equity in our state, and I’m so humbled by being a part of making this step happen.”
Denver Representative James Coleman’s Opinion on the Social Equity Bill
The bill received overwhelming support and was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in less than a week. Denver Representative James Coleman was ecstatic.
“I’m really pleased, as you’d imagine, that we were able to get this kind of legislation passed in this amount of time,” Coleman told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview on Monday. “I think it’s a testament to the amount of work that our stakeholders did outside of the building, but also a testament to my colleagues in the legislature who agree that we should have an opportunity for folks to work equitably in an industry that is booming and is really taking a lead here in Colorado.”
Colorado As A Stoner’s Paradise
Colorado is a stoner’s paradise thanks to its impressive marijuana policies. For starters, Colorado was the first state in the nation to allow for the sale of recreational marijuana in 2014, and it was the first place in the world where marijuana was regulated from seed to sale, making it a pioneer city.
Colorado Amendment 64
Under the Colorado Amendment 64 which was passed in 2012, adults aged 21 and above can legally grow up to six marijuana plants and own all the pot that stems from these plants.
Public Consumption of Marijuana is Illegal in Colorado
The Colorado state government draws a line where public consumption of marijuana is concerned. Just as the law against public drinking stands, under amendment 64, Colorado does not entertain public and open smoking of cannabis and can result in hefty fines.
It is also illegal to possess marijuana when visiting national parks, national forests, monuments, or any other federal land.
Punishment For Breaking Marijuana Laws In Colorado
This offence will easily earn you up to a year in jail and $1,000 on the first offence, along with a 15-day mandatory sentence that can be extended to two years in prison for a second offence. A repeat offender isn’t quite as lucky as they can receive a 90-day to a three-year prison term and a $5,000 fine.
Nevada Governor Pardoned a Record-Breaking 15,000 Marijuana Convicts
Clemency has been an important tool for checking the unjust outcomes produced by the criminal justice system and marijuana convicts have been on the receiving end lately.
Colorado’s massive srides on the side of clemency are following closely in the footsteps of Nevada where 15,000 marijuana convicts were granted clemency by Governor Steve Sisolak earlier this year in June.
“Today is a historic day for those who were convicted of what has long been considered a trivial crime, and is now legal under Nevada law,” the governor said in a press release.
“Since the passage of [adult-use legalization] in 2016 and the decriminalization of possession for small amounts of marijuana, many Nevadans have had these minor offences remain on their records, in some cases as a felony. This resolution aims to correct that and fully restore any rights lost as a result of these convictions.”