Pubdate: Sat, 26 Apr 2014
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2014 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Kurtis Lee
Page: 5A


A Bipartisan Proposal Targets Convictions That Predate Current Law in Colorado.

Marijuana convictions that predate current Colorado law could be 
sealed under a bipartisan proposal being floated inside the Capitol- 
a move, say some lawmakers and marijuana advocates, that could 
potentially impact thousands of Coloradans.

The proposal, sponsored by Sens. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, and 
Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, allows anyone convicted of a marijuana 
offense that would now be legal under Amendment 64 to have their 
records sealed. Also, a draft of the bill says that a person 
convicted of "any other marijuana offense" beyond the scope of 
Amendment 64 would also be allowed to file a petition with a district 
attorney to have their record sealed. If the district attorney does 
not object, the court would then be required to seal the conviction 
record, according to a draft of the proposal.

Amendment 64 went into effect in December 2012 and allows for the 
possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for Coloradans age 21 and 
over. Moreover, it allows for adults to grow and cultivate their own marijuana.

"There are tens of thousands of people with previous cannabis 
offenses that hurt them from getting things like loans, housing and 
employment," said JasonWarf, a marijuana advocate and director of 
Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council.

Groups like the Colorado District Attorneys' Council and the attorney 
general's office on Friday offered reservations about the possible legislation.

"It creates a horrible precedent by retrofitting criminal sanctions 
for past conduct every time a new law is changed or passed," Carolyn 
Tyler, a spokeswoman for the AG's office, said in an e-mail.

In March, Colorado's Court of Appeals threw out a woman's 2011 
convictions for marijuana offenses that are now legal. The woman was 
appealing her convictions for possessing less than an ounce of 
marijuana and possessing marijuana concentrate, among other charges. 
At the time, the court said its decision applies only to people who 
were in the midst of an appeal on the effective date of Amendment 64.

Prior to Amendment 64, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana 
was a petty offense in Colorado, and state law specified conviction 
for the offense "shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100."

 From January through November 2012, about 4,800 people over 21 years 
old were charged with petty possession of less than 2 ounces of 
marijuana, according to a Denver Post analysis of court data for 
every county except Denver. Only about 900 of those charges resulted 
in some type of finding of guilt.

"This falls in line with the will of the voters, who by a wide 
margin, passed Amendment 64," said Ulibarri, who Friday noted the 
bill is still receiving edits.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom