Denver Introduces Program to Clear Low-Level Marijuana Convictions
Many residents living in a state with recreational marijuana will no longer have a criminal record over a little pot.
The city of Denver, Colorado is about to launch a new legal program. Importantly, it will expunge previous low-level marijuana charges from peoples’ records. The new program will likely affect thousands of people in the city. According to city officials, the program was created as a means of addressing social harms. Specifically, those caused by past cannabis prohibition laws and the war on drugs.
Denver’s Turn Over a New Leaf Program
Officials from both the Denver Mayor’s Office and the Denver District Attorney’s Office recently announced the new program, which is called Turn Over a New Leaf.
According to those officials, the program will bring important legal changes to the city. In particular, it will provide a way for previous marijuana charges to be expunged.
“Given the fact that possession of a small amount of marijuana is now legal in Denver, I have decided, in the interest of justice and fairness, that my office will assist individuals convicted of a marijuana offense which would now be legal in getting their convictions dismissed and expunged,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said, according to local media.
Under the terms of the new program, adults with low-level marijuana charges could be eligible to have their records cleared. To qualify, the marijuana conviction must be from 2001 to 2012.
And the person must apply for expungement. For now, the city will offer two ways to do this. Most immediately, you can fill out an application online using the program’s new website.
Additionally, the city will host in-person workshops. At these events, people with previous marijuana charges will receive help from trained experts. As of now, the city has planned at least four clinics throughout the coming months. In order to attend, you must bring a government-issued photo ID.
The Next Chapter in Marijuana Justice
According to local news sources in Denver, this new program operates in some ways as a stop-gap measure in the absence of more sweeping legislation.
More specifically, state lawmakers have so far failed to create any system to automatically get rid of low-level marijuana convictions across the board.
And so, in the meantime, Mayor Michael Hancock has decided to push ahead this new program. Because it’s not an automatic or universal expungement system, people hoping to clear their records will have to apply on an individual basis.
Then, each case will be reviewed by a judge. There will not be a formal hearing. Rather, the judge will review the application to determine if the applicant qualifies. If so, the applicant’s marijuana conviction will be expunged.
According to city officials, the Turn Over a New Leaf program is about social justice. In particular, the program is touted as a means of redressing the way that former marijuana laws disproportionately harmed people of color.
“This is about equity for our communities of color and individuals who were disproportionately impacted by low-level marijuana convictions that are no longer crimes in Colorado,” Hancock said.
He added: “Overturning these convictions is part of Denver’s multi-pronged approach to correct the social injustices caused by the war on drugs.”