Since Colorado effectively legalized the recreational use marijuana, many have asked the all-important question: why are there still people rotting in prison for marijuana convictions?
Now the Colorado Court of Appeals has responded, saying that residents convicted of marijuana possession before recreational marijuana was legalized should potentially be eligible to have those decisions overturned. Still, there is a long way to go.
While the doors of the prisons have not swung open just yet, as of January 1, 2014, adults from Colorado are legally allowed to buy up to one ounce of marijuana under recently passed Amendment 64 to the state Constitution. Each person convicted of doing just that may present their case for reconsideration, but with upwards of 9,000 marijuana possession cases being prosecuted each year before this year, that adds up to a lot of cases.
On March 13, the three judges of the state’s appeals panel made a decision to this effect, in a case against a Colorado woman sentenced in 2011 for marijuana possession. The judges said the sentence should be vacated since “there has been significant change in the law.”
“Amendment 64, by decriminalizing the personal use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, meets the statutory requirement for ‘a significant change in the law’ and eliminates and thus mitigates the penalties for persons convicted of engaging in such conduct,” the judges said.
Still, this would not effect those convicted of marijuana crimes that go beyond the permissiveness of the state’s current laws. This would include a lot of people thrown in prison for nothing more than selling a plant.
(Article by M.B. David; image via AFP Photo / Getty Images / Marc Piscotty)