Governor Jared Polis just signed a bill into law that increases the amount of cannabis that adults can legally possess in Colorado from one ounce to two ounces. It also streamlines the record-sealing process for past cannabis possession convictions and expands record-sealing eligibility to include additional cannabis offenses. The new law takes effect immediately.
In 2012, voters approved Amendment 64, making possession of up to one ounce of cannabis legal for adults 21 and older under the state constitution. Possession of between one and two ounces of cannabis remained unlawful because a previously existing Colorado statute classified possession of up to two ounces as a petty offense.
HB21-1090, sponsored by Rep. Alex Valdez and Sen. Julie Gonazales, eliminates the offense for possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, thereby increasing the legal possession limit from one ounce to two ounces for adults 21 and older. It also preserves the illegal status of possessing any amount of cannabis for people under 21.
Bringing the legal possession limit into alignment with the historical classification for lowest-level possession offenses is also expected to reduce the administrative burden associated with sealing the records of past possession offenses.
“Amendment 64 was drafted at a time when no jurisdiction in the world had ever legalized cannabis for non-medical use,” said VS Strategies. “Many voters were still on the fence about whether to allow possession of one gram, let alone one or two ounces. We knew there would eventually be an appetite for increasing the possession limit, so Amendment 64 was deliberately crafted to allow for it. These reforms are just the latest sign that most Coloradans and their elected representatives are satisfied with the state’s decision to end prohibition and regulate cannabis for adult use. We applaud our state lawmakers and the governor for their continued leadership on cannabis policy.”
Additionally, HB21-1090 adds cannabis possession to the list of offenses for which records of past convictions can be sealed without notification of the prosecuting district attorney. This will make the process less time-consuming and less expensive, increasing access to record-sealing for financially challenged individuals, who are also the most likely to have been convicted of possession offenses. The bill also extends eligibility for record-sealing to individuals convicted of a class 3 felony for marijuana cultivation.
VS Strategies played a leading role in the lobbying effort behind HB21-1090, and the bill was supported by a broad coalition of advocates, organizations, and businesses, including the ACLU of Colorado; Black, Brown and Red Badge Coalition; the Colorado Cannabis Manufacturer’s Association; Kind Colorado; Native Roots; and Terrapin Care Station.