Colorado may be the mecca of legal marijuana, but the state’s old drug laws still loom large. More than 10,000 people in Denver alone were convicted of low-level cannabis crimes between 2001 and 2013.
Those offenses — such as possessing the drug or paraphernalia — would not be illegal today, but they still haunt many people’s criminal records.
Now, the city of Denver will help people to clear those records. Mayor Michael Hancock has ordered a “citywide effort” to vacate and expunge low-level marijuana convictions for residents.
“For too long, the lives of low-income residents and those living in our communities of color have been negatively affected by low-level marijuana convictions,” he said in a news release Tuesday morning. “This is an injustice that needs to be corrected, and we are going to provide a pathway to move on from an era of marijuana prohibition that has impacted the lives of thousands of people.”
People already can try to expunge records on their own, and at their own cost, but the city now will proactively help them, a spokesperson said.
The city’s support will make the expungement process significantly easier, said mayoral spokesperson Theresa Marchetta. The exact details of the program haven’t been announced.
“It could take the form of an executive order,” she said. It might be done on a case-by-case basis, rather than a single unified effort, she said.
Last week, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would vacate and seal thousands of marijuana possession conviction records.
State lawmakers also have acted on the issue last year: A 2017 law allows people to seal records of misdemeanor use and possession charges, though they’re still required to pay nearly $300 of filing fees.
Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana in 2012.
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