Colorado's Hickenlooper mulling clemency for dozens with nonviolent marijuana convictions

DENVER – Colorado’s governor is mulling granting clemency to a handful of state inmates in prison on marijuana-related convictions.

The office of John Hickenlooper told Denver7 Tuesday it was reviewing fewer than 40 cases involving people convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, and evaluating whether or not it would be appropriate for those convicts to apply for clemency.

Last November, Hickenlooper granted clemency to 22 people, including at least six with only marijuana convictions, who he said had “taken great strides to improve their lives and communities.” All 22 of those people had already completed their sentences.

Last week, prosecutors in San Francisco and San Diego moved to review thousands of felony convictions and possibly drop them to misdemeanors. Around 3,000 misdemeanor convictions in San Francisco could be dismissed.

The move from both cities comes after voters legalized recreational marijuana, erasing certain marijuana-related crimes. Advocates say minorities had been unfairly targeted with marijuana prosecution in the past, and have asked other states and cities to follow suit.

Hickenlooper told business news outlet Cheddar earlier this week that he was doing such, and his office confirmed the review with Denver7 Tuesday. In an interview with The Denver Post, Hickenlooper chalked part of the reasoning to overcrowded prisons within the state.

His office confirmed that state attorneys had been working for months to evaluate which prisoners might be eligible for clemency based off their records both inside and outside of prison.

“We have been discussing this idea for some time and are carefully evaluating whether there are some inmates who are appropriate candidates for clemency,” said Jacque Montgomery, the governor’s spokeswoman.

Last year, Hickenlooper signed a bill passed by the state legislature that allows people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession or use to petition to their local district court to have their criminal records relating to the cases sealed if the crimes were committed after Dec. 10, 2012.

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