As Colorado muddles its way through the new marijuana landscape, the Colorado Court of Appeals made a relatively groundbreaking decision last week. The Court ruled that Amendment 64 could retroactively apply to certain possession cases, meaning those found guilty of having less than the now-legal limit of 1 ounce of the drug could possibly have their convictions repealed.
Here’s the catch: This ruling only applies to people who were already seeking an appeal when the updated marijuana laws went into effect in 2012. It won’t help those Deadheads fined in the 1970s, and it won’t benefit any happy-go-lucky University of Colorado students charged in the early 2000s either.
“The impact of this ruling is very limited given that possession of an ounce or less of marijuana was already a petty offense subject to a $100 fine,” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers told Reuters. “No one could be incarcerated for such a petty offense.”
Marijuana Advocate Brian Vicente, who helped draft Amendment 64, argued, however, that Colorado prosecutes as many as 9,000 cases a year for marijuana possession and that several cases were under appeal when the drug was decriminalized.
Suthers is threatening to appeal the ruling anyway, because he doesn’t agree with the Court’s opinion that “a significant change in the law” means it can be applied retroactively. He said a law needs to clearly indicate if it applies to past occurrences, but that Amendment 64 contains no such language.
Still, this decision sets a precedent that could influence other marijuana-related cases. We’ve already seen how open state prosecutors were to dropping pending marijuana cases as soon as the new law was approved, and they may be willing to reconsider other legal actions undertaken during that gray period as well. If you have a similar sentence you believe could be reversed, please contact us immediately at 720.542.6148.