Colorado Governor Issues 1,351 End-of-Year Marijuana Pardons

Jared Polis sits on a courtroom audience bench
Gov. Jared Polis pardoned 1,351 people convicted of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana. Since October 2020, he has mass pardoned more than 4,000 low-level pot convictions. / Law Week file.

On Dec. 30, Gov. Jared Polis pardoned 1,351 people convicted of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana. The governor has now pardoned more than 4,000 people convicted of now legal marijuana possession since October 2020. 

The Dec. 30 mass pardon applied to individuals identified by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation with state-level convictions for possessing two ounces or less of marijuana before it was legalized for adult use in 2012. The pardon did not apply to municipal-level convictions, which, as the governor pointed out in his executive order, include “many convictions of two ounces or less of marijuana.” Polis urged municipal governments to adopt clemency measures “in line with this order.” 

The class pardon includes 1,351 convictions that will no longer appear on the criminal records. “It’s unfair that 1,351 additional Coloradans had permanent blemishes on their record that interfered with employment, credit, and gun ownership, but today we have fixed that by pardoning their possession of small amounts of marijuana that occurred during the failed prohibition era,” said Polis in a press release. 

The governor can issue class pardons for Coloradans convicted of possession of marijuana up to two ounces. The executive power was created by House Bill 20-1424 which also set aside a handful of social equity marijuana license types. 

In October 2020, Polis pardoned 2,732 people convicted of possessing one ounce of marijuana. “My decision to pardon these individuals was a reflection of the law in Colorado at the time,” wrote Polis in the executive order.

In March 2021, House Bill 21-1090 increased the limit of adult-use marijuana to two ounces, rather than just one. The latest mass pardon includes those who were convicted of the new, higher possession limit. 

Anyone who is unsure or would like to confirm that they are included in the pardon can fill out a request form with the CBI. 

The governor also issued 15 individual pardons and three sentence commutations on Dec. 30. In December 2020, the governor handed down 22 requests for clemency for a range of charges including a handful of non-violent drug convictions.

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