Last week spelled the end for Colorado’s fiscal year 2020 General Assembly session.
It came with a bit of drama.
What would have otherwise been a quiet ending to state lawmakers’ work for the year was imbued with spark and controversy at literally the last moment. A Democratic-pushed amendment to House Bill 1424 saw to that.
HB 1424’s original language was confined to a single subject that was well defined and relatively narrow in nature.
Namely, that was a focus on passage for an expanded state marijuana licensing scheme. As underscored in one media report, the bill seeks “to open the marijuana industry to people of color and those who were previously convicted on drug charges that wouldn’t be crimes now.”
Reportedly, there was broad legislative agreement on that aim, across both sides of the political aisle. What clearly rankled some Republicans as the 2020 session neared its ending, though, was the late tacking on of additional language to HB 1424. The beefed-up bill was able to clear the legislature and proceed to Gov. Jared Polis owing to the House’s Democratic majority.
What proponents of a more robust law want the governor to endorse in addition to so-called “marijuana equity” in the business sphere is this: a mass pot-linked expungement for convicted individuals on a scale never before seen in the state.
What HB 1424 specifically confers on the governor is the power to pardon every person in Colorado who has ever been convicted on a marijuana possession charge involving two ounces or less of pot.
One bill sponsor points to what proponents see as obvious equity driving the amendment. He says adjustment must be made for “people who are still paying for their crimes that are now legal and constitutional.”
We will keep readers duly informed on updates concerning the governor’s response and any linked developments.