Little interest so far in Boulder DA program to vacate marijuana convictions

How to apply

Application forms for the Moving on from Marijuana program are available at . Completed forms can be emailed to Ken Kupfner at kkupfner.org.

 

The Boulder County District Attorney‘s Office‘s drive so far this year has only had nine eligible people apply, as prosecutors suspect many people are waiting for broader state action on the matter.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty in January launched the Moving on From Marijuana program, with prosecutors offering to vacate and seal marijuana possession convictions and pleas in light of voters legalizing marijuana in 2012.

Prosecutors identified about 4,000 eligible convictions since 2008 in Boulder County but have only had nine eligible people apply so far, Dougherty said. All nine have had their convictions cleared.

“It‘s still very early,” Dougherty said, noting there were additional people who asked about their cases but were determined to be ineligible for the program due to other charges on their cases.

But while Dougherty said part of the low number might just be people are not yet aware of the program, he also said he thinks some people with convictions might be waiting for statewide legislation on the matter that would automate the process.

“To put that number in context, a lot of people, including me, are hoping for changes to be made at a statewide level automatically,” Dougherty said. “We‘re hoping to see legislation on an automated system so people don‘t have to be living in Boulder and hear about our program.”

The state Legislature in 2017 passed a law that allows Colorado residents to have marijuana possession cases sealed for a fee, but so far there has been nothing introduced that would wipe out all possession convictions statewide. Mayor Michael Hancock announced in late 2018 following Dougherty‘s announcement.

While Dougherty said he is hopeful something will eventually be passed that addresses the entire state, in the meantime he is still working to continue to address Boulder County cases.

“I hope to see it come to fruition,” Dougherty said. “But if not, we will continue to work on it for people convicted here in Boulder County.”

Dougherty said his office will continue to take for the program, which waives fees and also does not require residents to come into court if they apply.

“Ultimately, here in Boulder, we‘re going to go back and do that for every eligible offender,” Dougherty said. “This is just part of our overall effort to help individuals get back on the right track, as opposed to cycling in and out of the justice system.

“If we can help people to apply for jobs and schools without convictions on their record for something that is legal today, they can be productive members of the community and less likely to return to the criminal justice system.”

 



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