In a landmark case issued on March 13, 2014; the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that legalized marijuana under Amendment 64 applies retroactively to past possession of marijuana convictions. The case entitled People v. Russell involving a woman convicted of (among other crimes) possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and possession of marijuana concentrate in August of 2011. In its ruling, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant’s convictions of other crimes but reversed the convictions of the marijuana offenses holding “[Amendment 64], which decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, applies retroactively to defendants whose convictions under those provisions were subject to appeal or postconviction motion on the effective date of the amendment.”
The last part of the ruling still creates a grey area for people who have a conviction of less than an ounce of marijuana on their record. The ruling means that anyone who was still within the statutory timeframe to appeal their case when Amendment 64 went into effect are able to have their convictions reversed. However, the timeframe to appeal a misdemeanor conviction in Colorado is only 18 months, meaning that this ruling only applies to people convicted of marijuana possession between the dates of June 1st, 2011 through January 1st, 2013.
However, Colorado law also allows for a case to be appealed outside of the statutory timeframe if there is a “justifiable excuse or excusable neglect” for missing the window. This is usually an incredibly high burden to prove, but based on the uniqueness of this situation, it is possible that every conviction of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana or possession of marijuana paraphernalia for people over the age of 21 is appealable and therefore reversible. It seems that it would be unfair to allow some people that were convicted of an offense to have their conviction reversed while others not solely based on the date of their conviction.
Regardless, if you have a conviction for less than an ounce of marijuana on your record, and you were over 21 at the time of the offense, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible to file an appeal of your conviction. Even if you served your sentence, convictions for drug possession can have profound impacts on your life including creating issues for employment and higher educational prospects. The attorneys at Peter Loyd Weber and Associates are experienced criminal defense attorneys who are not afraid to fight for your rights in this new area of the legal world. Call us today for a free consultation at (720)863-7755.