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Colorado Legislature Doubles Marijuana Possession Limit

Colorado Legislature Doubles Marijuana Possession LimitEXPAND
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The Colorado Legislature has approved a bill that would double the legal amount of recreational marijuana that adults 21 and older can possess, from 1 to 2 ounces.

House Bill 1090 cleared its final state Senate vote in late April, and now awaits the signature of Governor Jared Polis.

On top of doubling the recreational possession limit, HB 1090 qualifies convictions for up to 2 ounces of pot possession for record clearing; it would also wipe out former Class 3 marijuana cultivation felony convictions, as well as charges for growing more than twelve plants but fewer than 25. (Growing more than twelve plants would remain illegal for anyone without a medical marijuana card and extended plant count, however.)

There are some strings attached to the new record-clearing process: Former offenders would have to apply to the courts themselves, and anyone with convictions on the record since their marijuana charges would be disqualified, though bill sponsor Representative Alex Valdez says those instances would be looked at by judges "on their own merit." Approval from district attorneys, a common stipulation in record-clearing for other crimes, would not be required.

The new marijuana possession limit wouldn't affect Colorado's daily dispensary purchasing limit of 1 ounce as it currently stands, because that would require a regulatory change by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, around 27 people each year are charged in Colorado with possession of 2 ounces of marijuana or less.

The record-clearing process would go through local court systems, unlike the 2,732 pardons issued at the state level by Polis for possession charges of one ounce or less late last year. The law granting Polis that pardon power allows Colorado's governor to pardon convictions for up to 2 ounces of marijuana, but Polis limited his 2020 pardons to 1 ounce, citing the state's then-current adult-use possession limit.

"The Governor intends on signing HB21-1090, and will thoughtfully consider all privileges afforded to him through legislation this session, just as he did the previous two legislative sessions," says Victoria Graham, Polis's deputy press secretary.

Update: This article was updated Thursday, May 6, to add a comment from the governor's office.

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