Michael Diaz-Rivera was 19 years old when he was arrested in 2006 for felony marijuana possession in Colorado Springs. He had less than an ounce, but took a plea deal for 8 ounces or more to avoid a charge for intent to distribute.
Now, almost 15 years later, marijuana is legal in Colorado and anyone over 21 can purchase more than Diaz-Rivera was arrested for at shops on nearly every corner.
But people like Diaz-Rivera are still suffering.
“I was a 19-year-old kid when this happened and it still is finding a way to follow me,” Diaz-Rivera said. “It’s frustrating.”
In October, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order pardoning those with state-level convictions of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana.
While 2,732 convictions were pardoned, over 10,000 possession arrests were made annually in Colorado before marijuana was legalized in 2012, leaving countless Coloradans unaffected by the pardon, according to Mason Tvert with Vicente Sederberg LLP.
Individuals who were convicted in municipal courts or arrested/issued a summons without a conviction were also not included in the pardon.
“(The pardon) is limited to a very small universe of individuals,” Tvert said. “This is not to downplay or marginalize the significance of these pardons. It’s just that the vast majority of possession convictions occur in municipal courts.” [Read more at Colorado Politics]