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Colorado Senate Committee Passes Bill to Double Legal Cannabis Possession, Clear Past Convictions

Colorado is considering a new bill, HB 21-1090, which would further advance cannabis justice.

It’s possible that Colorado could end up with double the legal amount of cannabis possession allowed, but HB 21-1090 is still making its way through the state legislative process.

The next step for the bill was a state Senate committee hearing April 22, through which, according to NORML, the bill passed. HB 21-1090 was initially introduced by Democrat Alex Valdez, and if it gets signed into law, it will raise the possession limit for individuals up to two ounces. It will also allow former cannabis offenders who had low-level possession and cultivation charges to try to clear their records.

So far, it passed 45 to 19 in the House and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Valdez feels it will make it all the way through.

“It should come up fairly quickly, given the fact that it was pretty free of controversy,” Valdez said. “I think marijuana issues are generally starting to be non-partisan, but we got some of the more conservative folks to vote for it, too, which really shows.” Specifically, HB 21-1090 would seal Class 3 cannabis cultivation felonies—meaning felonies for growing between 12 and 25 plants. Growing more than 12 plants would still be illegal without an extended plant count provided by a medical cannabis card, and dispensary purchases would still be limited to one ounce a day, unless the Marijuana Enforcement Division decides to change its rules. Still, this would be a huge step for the already-blooming cannabis industry. While Valdez’s goal is eventually to automate the record-clearing process in Colorado, he wasn’t sure if it would be financially feasible this soon after the impact COVID had on the economy. The process for sealing records will involve petitioning a judge. Each person and their charges “will be looked at on their own merit” by judges.

“It allows them to petition directly to a judge instead of getting the district attorney’s sign-off,” Valdez said. “It gets very legal-eagle, because district attorneys obviously want to preserve their ability to have checks there.” This proposal would only apply to local convictions, as opposed to the state convictions that Governor Jared Polis has already pardoned. However, he only pardoned convictions of one ounce, sticking with the legal limit. This would bring in new convictions to clear, as it would pardon anyone who possessed two ounces.

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