Denver to Vacate Low-Level Marijuana Convictions That Occurred Before Legalization

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) is ordering a “citywide” effort to vacate and expunge low-level marijuana convictions from residents’ criminal records.

“For too long, the lives of low-income residents and those living in our communities of color have been negatively affected by low-level marijuana convictions,” the Democrat said in a statement on Tuesday, according to The Denver Post.

“This is an injustice that needs to be corrected, and we are going to provide a pathway to move on from an era of marijuana prohibition that has impacted the lives of thousands of people.”

Colorado, which is one of the most progressive states with regard to marijuana legislation, legalized recreational use of the drug in 2012.

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AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW: Art Way, Colorado State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance

Who: Art Way, DPA State Director for Colorado, spearheads advocacy to ensure that implementation of marijuana legalization in Colorado reflects a commitment to racial equity, reparative justice and public health.

Quote: “We applaud Mayor Hancock for working to repair the harms of marijuana prohibition by vacating low-level marijuana convictions for Denver residents. While we don’t know the specifics of his plan, we urge the city to automate the process so that this helps the most amount of people possible. The state of Colorado should now follow Denver’s lead.”

What: Today Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced a citywide effort to vacate low-level marijuana convictions that occurred before marijuana legalization. This initiative is framed as part of an effort to address the disproportionate impact of marijuana prohibition on communities of color and low-income populations. It is presented as part of a broader approach to promoting equity and inclusion in the context of marijuana legalization.

Art Way is available for an interview or comment to discuss:

  • The impact of providing retroactive relief for low-level marijuana convictions and the need for additional statewide reforms addressing similar issues through the legislative and regulatory processes.
  • The need for socially equitable inclusion in the cannabis industry at the local, state, and national levels.
  • The importance of broader criminal justice reforms to counteract mass criminalization and the failed drug war, including the decriminalization of drug use and possession.

WHEN: Art Way is available for interviews or comments today and throughout the week. Please contact Art Way or Tony Newman for more information or to discuss scheduling.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. DPA is a national leader in advocating for responsible and equitable legal regulation of marijuana to reduce the harms caused by prohibition.


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