Could CO Pot Legalization Wipe Out Thousands Of Convictions?


Anywhere from a few dozen to more than 10,000 people could be eligible to have old marijuana convictions overturned as the result of a landmark Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that applied marijuana legalization retroactively, the Denver Post reports. Defense attorneys are looking for former clients who might be eligible for such relief, but much depends on how subsequent courts apply the new ruling. On the surface, it appears to have little reach, but attorneys say it is possible courts could follow the reasoning of the ruling to overturn every marijuana case in the state in which an adult was convicted of a crime that stopped being illegal when the state’s marijuana-legalization law went into effect in late 2012.

“I think there are thousands of people who could potentially have their convictions overturned,” said Sean McAllister, an attorney who specializes in marijuana cases. In order for that to be true, Colorado courts will have to adopt an expansive reading of the ruling — a scenario prosecutors see as unlikely. “I think that’s a tortured application of the (appeals court’s) holding,” said Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council. The appeals court’s decision overturned two marijuana convictions for a woman found guilty in 2011 of things that are no longer illegal under state law as a result of the measure that went into effect last December making it legal for people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or marijuana concentrate and grow up to six marijuana plants.

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