Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler is following fellow DAs in Denver and Boulder counties in seeking to offer relief to people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses, but he disagrees with his colleagues about how to address old convictions and whether the other DAs attempts are even legal.
District attorneys in Boulder County and Denver have recently sought to clear low-level marijuana convictions for people who are affected by their criminal records now that marijuana and related low-level offenses for possession are no longer illegal. Both municipalities have begun offering to review and vacate some convictions. According to Brauchler, though, current state law doesn’t offer prosecutors an adequate mechanism to seal marijuana convictions. He sent a letter on Thursday to his district’s state legislators to ask them to solve that problem and to offer assistance in coming up with a statewide plan.
“While I largely support allowing some misdemeanor marijuana offenders to have records of their convictions sealed from public access so that a low-level marijuana conviction does not end up impacting their life years down the road, existing law does not give me the tools to accomplish that,” Brauchler wrote.
Boulder’s program, announced in November, allows individuals to apply for the prosecutors’ office to vacate low-level offenses going back to 2008, but the office has said the plan is to eventually address older convictions as well. Denver’s “Turn Over a New Leaf” program similarly offers to vacate low-level marijuana criminal convictions that occurred in Denver before marijuana legalization.