Bill that would seal marijuana convictions now legal under Amendment 64 passes committee

DENVER - The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bipartisan sponsored bill that would allow someone to have their marijuana conviction sealed, if the conviction is now legal under Amendment 64.

State Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, and Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, sponsored bill 14-218. The bill allows anyone who was convicted of a marijuana offense that would not have been illegal had Amendment 64 been in effect at that time, to request sealing of the conviction record.

The committee heard public comment for nearly two hours Wednesday before approving the bill.

Well-known marijuana attorney Robert Corry told 7NEWS the point of Amendment 64 is to "forgive and forget" and that includes past convictions.

"The problem is people with old convictions, they have a hard time getting housing, they have a hard time getting jobs, they have a hard time putting roofs over their families head," Corry said. "We want to move past that old way of thinking where people are penalized for the rest of their lives for marijuana related conduct."

Tom Raynes with the Colorado District Attorney's Council said they do not agree with the bill, specifically because it does not allow a judge or district attorney to review the petition to seal.

"Some of the crimes that are now encompassed as non-criminal conduct in Amendment 64 include cultivation. Just five years ago cultivation was a class four felony. The other thing you have to compensate for in looking at the bill is the plea bargain process in the criminal justice system. This bill does not allow for any review by the court," said Raynes.

After hearing public comment, the committee asked the sponsors to amend the bill to allow the district attorney to review the petition to seal.

"Do you go back in time and unwind convictions that were illegal at the time? When folks violated the law, they knew they were violating the law," Raynes said.

The bill was passed on a 3-2 vote and is now headed to the Committee on Appropriations.

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