Colorado Considers Freeing Those Convicted on Marijuana Charges

Colorado is considering freeing inmates with nonviolent marijuana convictions.

Colorado is a magical place if you have a proclivity for smoking weed. In 2012, the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, and last November, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued pardons to seven people convicted of marijuana possession.

He’s now looking to take an even more proactive stance on the issue by exploring the idea of releasing almost 40 prisoners who have been sentenced under nonviolent marijuana charges. Not only is the desire to lessen the convictions a policy statement from Hickenlooper’s administration, but it’s also a criticism of Colorado’s overcrowded prisons. The governor is hoping his action will incite others to pursue pardons for their own marijuana-connected crimes.

"Right now, we have not enough room left in our prisons. So if what these people are serving serious time for wasn’t violent — is no longer illegal — maybe we should be looking at [whether] it safe to release them," Hickenlooper told The Denver Post.

The governor’s administration is currently reviewing cases where inmates have only been sentenced for possessing or selling marijuana and are looking into their behavior in prison. Hickenlooper publicly endorsed the plan in an interview with the business and technology streaming channel Cheddar.

Last year, Colorado signed into law a statute that permits offenders to appeal the district court to seal criminal records for misdemeanors for possession or use, if their charges wouldn’t have been a crime after 2012.

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in California, San Francisco and San Diego declared that thousands of people with misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession will have their criminal records wiped.

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