Colorado Invoice, which doubles marijuana possession, Clears Information awaits Senate listening to
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A bill that would double the amount of recreational marijuana that is legal to own and also eliminate less serious pot violations finds its way through Colorado law, where it is now after passing the House of Representatives to a Senate committee hearing waiting.
The House Bill 1090, introduced by Representative Alex Valdez, a Denver Democrat, would increase the possession limit from 1 ounce to 2 ounces and give ex-offenders of crimes of little possession and cultivation more opportunities to clear their records.
The proposal was passed by House 45-19, and Valdez is confident that he will stand a chance in the other chamber, where Senator Julie Gonzalez will lead the indictment. “It should be pretty quick as it was pretty controversial,” says Valdez. “I think marijuana issues in general are starting to be impartial, but we’ve also got some of the more conservative people to vote for what really shows.”
The proposal also provides for a conviction for grade 3 marijuana growing – growing more than twelve plants but fewer than 25 – to be sealed, despite growing more than twelve plants for anyone without a medical marijuana card and one extended plant numbers would remain illegal. The increase in ownership would also not affect Colorado’s 1 ounce daily pharmacy purchase limit, as it would require a change in regulations by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Valdez had previously hoped to automate the data cleansing process, but feared the tax implications would be too high. He now believes that a program of former petitioners petitioning criminals is more likely – although prosecutor approval, a common provision in clearing records for other crimes, would not be required as the measure is currently being written . The bill was also amended to disqualify former marijuana offenders with other convictions. These are “considered by the judges on their own initiative”.
“It allows them to petition directly to a judge instead of getting approval from the district attorney,” explains Valdez. “It’s going to be very legal because prosecutors obviously want to keep their ability to have checks there.”
Unlike Governor Jared Polis’ October order that automatically overturned state convictions for marijuana possession of 1 ounce or less, this proposal would apply to local convictions that far exceed the 2,732 state convictions pardoned by Polis. Although the governor had been given the power to pardon convictions for up to 2 ounces by a 2020 state bill, he chose to stick with 1, citing the state’s current adult ownership restriction.
Increasing the level to 2 ounces would result in a much larger pool of convictions to be resolved. This could be challenging if HB 1090 doesn’t automate the process, according to marijuana attorney Sean McAllister.
Before he started representing licensed pot companies, McAllister defended arrested medical marijuana patients. He is currently the Executive Officer of the City of Denver’s Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel. Based on his experience, McAllister says that a record deletion process that is not automated and has a relatively low ownership limit won’t reach many people.
“If there isn’t an automatic seal it won’t have much of an impact, but that really costs the state money. If that’s the cost of this failed immoral drug war, they should do it anyway, but that tends to be the deal- To be a killer, “explains McAllister. Still, he adds, “Any exemption from property laws or expansion of record-sealing laws is certainly a step forward.”
Looking up ancient marijuana crimes can be especially difficult when the arrest judiciary does not attend the Colorado Crime Information Center, which maintains a nationwide criminal record database, McAllister notes.
Many of the marijuana possession arrests McAllister saw before recreational activities were legalized involved either small personal amounts or large amounts likely to be intended for distribution, making the 2-ounce limit ineffective, he says.
“Most people have quarter-ounce bags and half-ounces or pounds of them, not between an ounce and 2 ounces,” he explains. “My personal opinion is that there should be no possession restrictions for adults unless they intend to distribute.”
HB 1090 is currently scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 22nd.
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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.