Pot Possession Limits Double in Colorado and Now the State Is Sealing More Criminal Records

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a new law on Thursday doubling personal cannabis possession limits for adults. The bill also requires courts to seal criminal records for convictions over the previous possession limit and certain weed growing violations, as well.

The bill, HB 1090, raises the cannabis possession limit from one ounce to two ounces. For the newbies reading this, that means adults age 21 and over in Colorado can now carry 16 eighths of weed instead of just 8. Booyah!

Previously, possession of cannabis between one to two ounces was considered a petty offense that came with a $100 fine. Those penalties are now gone for anyone holding two ounces or less of flower or concentrate.

HB 1090 also makes it easier for cannabis convicts to petition the courts for records sealing — so long as the proper paperwork is filled out first. Records sealing now includes anyone recently convicted of possessing weed over the old one-ounce limit or for growing more than 30 plants at once. 

“This is a very exciting bill in the vein of criminal justice reform because, for far too long, the consequences for people who had a personal amount of cannabis before it had been legalized still had a long shadow on them so for doing something that is fully legal today,” Polis said during Thursday’s signing ceremony. “They might have something on their record — and, of course, disproportionately people of color — that might get in the way of them getting loans or leases or licenses or jobs or mortgages or many other things.”

And while the bill doesn’t require amelioration for prior cannabis convictions, Polis is directing the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to find anyone who has a record for the old charges so courts can seal the records. Individuals who qualify will need to fill out special paperwork for the court, however. The clemency is not automatic, as it is in some states like California.

In January 2014, Colorado became the first US state to sell licensed or regulated weed. The state continues to implement major cannabis policy reforms, as legalization alone didn’t guarantee medical cannabis access for all patients nor did it address social justice issues. For instance, the state recently required all schools to permit medical cannabis for qualifying students. 

However, new restrictions sometimes follow new permissions, too. Last week, Colorado officially clarified a ban on delta-8 THC derived from hemp, and a new proposed bill crafted by anti-weed prohibitionists could create additional limits on cannabis concentrates.