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Some Pot Cases Can Be Overturned, Says Colorado Court

The Colorado Court of Appeals made a crucial ruling that could have widespread implications for both the state and the nation at large.

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Inside the court of appeals. Photo via

By Shawn Dwyer

03/13/14

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On Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that some people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana can ask for their convictions to be overturned thanks to Amendment 64, which legalized less than one ounce of recreational weed during the last election. The potentially eligible cases will be those that were under appeal in December 2012 when the amendment took effect.

“Amendment 64, by decriminalizing the personal use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, meets the statutory requirement for a significant change in the law," the judges said in their ruling.

The appeals judges were determining the fate of a Grand County woman who was convicted of multiple drug charges, including possession of a third of an ounce of marijuana. She was sentenced in August 2011, but the ruling has overturned the convictions and sentences for the pot possession charges and sent the case back to the trial courts. Her attorney, Brian Emeson, said that the decision showed the “tide is turning” and that “it would be wise for them to focus on more pressing matters."

The ruling could potentially affect the hundreds of people currently serving time for minor pot possession charges by releasing some inmates from prison. “This is a huge victory,” said Brian Vicente, one of the authors of Amendment 64.

Though the law was in effect since December 2012, Colorado retailers were unable to begin retail sales until January of this year. But with over $2 million in tax revenues collected thus far, the new law has turned out to be a bigger success than previously imagined.

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