(John Leyba, Denver Post file)

Bill to seal minor pot convictions passed by Colo. Senate committee

After more than two hours of debate, the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow Coloradans convicted of marijuana offenses that would have been legal had Amendment 64 been in place to petition district courts to have their records sealed.

Almost 20 witnesses testified for or against the bill on pot convictions, which passed 3-2 after it was amended in an attempt to satisfy concerns of opponents.

Those efforts weren’t enough for Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, who wanted more time to sort out the issues.

“We need to get this right; it’s important,” Newell said to the co-sponsors, Sens. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins.

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But Ulibarri pushed forward, saying waiting would mean another year during which citizens lived with consequences that wouldn’t be the case if Amendment 64 had been in effect.

Passed in November 2012, Amendment 64 allows Coloradans ages 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of pot.

Proponents of the bill say it would affect thousands of residents in the state, some of whom have been unable to get jobs or housing because of their convictions.

After issues raised by opponents, including district attorney’s offices, Ulibarri and Marble added amendments specifying people convicted only of using pot for personal use or growing more than six plants may have their records sealed. Prosecutors would be able to review cases before someone’s record is sealed.

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This story was first published on DenverPost.com