Colorado city moving to cancel out past marijuana convictions

- Prosecutors in a Colorado county are preparing to dismiss and seal thousands of marijuana possession convictions after state voters legalized the use and sale of the drug six years ago.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports the Boulder County District Attorney's Office as part of a "Moving on from Marijuana" program has identified about 4,000 possession convictions dating to 2008 that would no longer be crimes under current law.

The state Legislature last year passed a law that allows those convicted of misdemeanor use or possession of marijuana to ask to seal, but not erase, criminal records if the past offense is not currently a crime. Boulder is taking that further, with clinics planned next month at the county justice center where people can have prosecutors look up their cases to see if they qualify.

Boulder County Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner said it was a matter of "fundamental fairness" given that possession of marijuana is no longer illegal. 

Prosecutors will give priority to people whose convictions are having an impact on their lives. 

"We want to help people whose convictions are having the greatest impact first," Kupfner said. "It could span everything from jobs to potential housing to educational opportunities. Anytime someone has a conviction, even for marijuana, it still shows up as a conviction."

The district attorney's office plans to eventually review older convictions, he added.

Qualifying convictions must have involved possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana or 1 ounce and a drug paraphernalia charge. Cases involving drug distribution or other additional charges will not be considered.

Shawn Coleman, a Boulder-based consultant to the marijuana industry, said it was "awesome" that Boulder was taking steps to dismiss old convictions and that other district attorneys should follow suit.

Boulder is home to the University of Colorado.

Officials in other states have taken similar steps. Vermont allows those convicted of marijuana transgressions to have them removed from their records.

Provisions of California's 2016 law that broadly legalized marijuana also allowed for the expungement or reduction from felonies to misdemeanors of some old pot convictions.
 

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