The Colorado Court of Appeals vacated the defendant’s marijuana possession conviction because it involved less than an ounce of marijuana.

The Colorado Court of Appeals found that Amendment 64 legalizing marijuana possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults can apply retroactively. It is the second highest court in the State, just below the state Supreme Court.

From the Court, “we hold, as a matter of first impression, that Colorado Constitution article XVIII, section 16 (popularly known as Amendment 64), which decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, applies retroactively to defendants whose convictions under those provisions were subject to appeal or postconviction motion on the effective date of the amendment.”

While Amendment 64 didn’t explicitly call for its provisions to apply retroactively, Colorado allows people to receive postconviction relief if there is a “significant change in the law.” Legalization is clearly a significant change. As a result the court determined the defendant’s marijuana possession conviction “must be reversed and vacated,” because it involved less than an ounce of marijuana. That amount is now legal.

This won’t affect all past marijuana arrests in Colorado, but it should provide relief to many who were arrested for small amounts of marijuana before voters approved the ballot measure.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by Jeffrey Beall, used under Creative Commons license