Gov. Jared Polis pardons 1,351 Coloradans convicted of marijuana possession; commutes sentence for three incarcerated people

More than 1,300 people convicted of possession of less than two ounces of marijuana will have their criminal records cleared after Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday he would issue a mass pardon.

Polis previously pardoned those convicted of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, but lawmakers in 2021 raised the legal possession limit of marijuana from one to two ounces. Those receiving the pardons did not need to apply and do not need to act further to clear their criminal record.

“Adults can legally possess marijuana in Colorado, just as they can beer or wine,” Polis said in a news release announcing the pardons. “It’s unfair that 1,351 additional Coloradans had permanent blemishes on their record that interfered with employment, credit, and gun ownership, but today we have fixed that by pardoning their possession of small amounts of marijuana that occurred during the failed prohibition era.”

Polis noted in his letter issuing the pardon that many low-level marijuana possession charges are filed as municipal offenses, which he does not have the authority to pardon. He urged municipalities to make changes allowing people with such charges to clear their records.

Polis also pardoned 15 people convicted of other crimes who served their sentences for crimes, including burglary, assault and arson. He reduced the sentences for three men currently incarcerated after reviewing their cases.

Commutations:

  • Ronald Johnson, who served more than 20 years of a 96-year sentence he was given in 1999 for theft, forgery and drug charges. Polis wrote in his letter that Johnson took responsibility for his crimes, had no disciplinary problems since 2006 and had a strong network of friends and family to support him upon release. Johnson will be released to parole Jan. 15.
  • Nicholas Wells, who served 10 years of a 48-year sentence ordered in 2011 for convictions including motor vehicle theft, possession of a forgery device and burglary. Polis wrote that Wells’ max sentence would be 32 years if he were sentenced under current state laws. Wells will be eligible for parole Jan. 15.
  • Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who was convicted in December for his role in a 2019 crash on Interstate 70 that killed four people. His sentence was reduced from 110 years to 10 years.

Pardons:

  • Travis Cleveland, who pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary in 2000.
  • Rudolph Garcia, who pleaded guilty to possession/sale of a controlled substance in 1997.
  • Michael Jordan, who pleaded guilty to distribution of marijuana and possession of a defaced firearm in 1997.
  • Reginald McGriff, who pleaded guilty to assault, forgery and criminal attempt in 1996.
  • Henry Cruz Moreno, who pleaded guilty to menacing in 2000.
  • Joseph Dacosta Murillo, who pleaded guilty to assault, conspiracy to commit burglary and drug possession in 1982, 1983 and 1988.
  • Ryan Nguyen, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to distributing a controlled substance.
  • Armando Solano, who pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in 2008.
  • Mohammed Suleiman, who pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a controlled substance in 2006.
  • Theresa Yoder, who pleaded guilty to drug possession in 2006.
  • Anthony Formby, who pleaded guilty to first-degree arson in 1980.
  • Stephanie Marie Gssime, who pleaded guilty to theft in 1995.
  • Timothy Ryan Lewis, who pleaded guilty to theft in 1999.
  • Miguel Navarro, who pleaded guilty to menacing in 2006.
  • Shawn Phillips, who pleaded guilty to criminal attempt and harassment in 1994.

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