Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado might be bringing tears to the eyes of cannabis advocates around the country, not to mention to the families of the 40 plus inmates he is releasing from prison for minor marijuana crimes. Granting clemency to the many men and women that are sitting in prison for non-violent marijuana crimes is possibly fulfilling the greatest hope of the people that have been fighting to end prohibition.
Hickenlooper’s decision comes on the heels of San Francisco’s district attorney expunging the records of thousands of people in the bay area dating back to the 70’s. Perhaps this is the beginning of clemency being granted to inmates around the country in states that have legalized cannabis.
The desire to commute the sentences is a policy statement on marijuana from the Democrat’s administration as well as a reflection of the state’s overcrowded prisons. And it may prompt untold others to seek pardons for past marijuana-related crimes.
“Right now, we have not enough room left in our prisons. So if what these people are serving serious time for wasn’t violent — is no longer illegal — maybe we should be looking at (whether) it safe to release them,” he said in an interview with The Denver Post.
In November, Hickenlooper issued pardons to seven people convicted of marijuana possession who applied to have their past crimes forgiven. But now, the governor is taking a more proactive approach.
The administration identified about 40 inmates who are serving prison sentences only for marijuana crimes, whether possession or sale. Hickenlooper’s attorneys are currently examining the details of the cases as well as the inmates’ conduct in prison. If satisfied, the administration would invite the inmates to apply for clemency.
Going over inmate records for behavior will be a tremendous amount of work before people are released, but the judicial work will give back many people their lives. Where will clemency for non-violent minor marijuana crimes come from next do you think?