Last Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Colorado's Amendment 64 applies retroactively to defendants whose actions would have been legal under the measure and were appealing convictions when it became law. A64 co-author Brian Vicente has called the decision a huge victory, while Colorado Attorney General John Suthers suggests that it is largely inconsequential, although he'll probably appeal it anyhow. Who's right? One pot advocate sides with Suthers but wishes a pox on both his and Vicente's houses.
First, the decision itself, which flows from charges against Brandi Jessica Russell. In March 2010, as detailed in the ruling (on view below), Russell and her husband brought their infant son to a hospital in Granby after the child's father "heard a pop" and the infant began to cry. Doctors soon discovered that the child had a spiral fracture on his left femur -- and began to suspect possible child abuse.
Russell was subsequently subjected to a drug test that detected methamphetamine and marijuana in her urine. The finding prompted a search of her home that turned up drug paraphernalia, plus amounts of marijuana, marijuana concentrate and meth.
Before long, Russell was charged with child abuse, plus possession of one gram or less of marijuana, marijuana concentrate and meth -- and while she was subsequently acquitted on the child-abuse beef, she was found guilty of the drug offenses. But Russell appealed, applying separate arguments for the meth and marijuana convictions. Her theory on the latter, according to the document, is that "Amendment 64 should be applied retroactively and that her convictions for possession of marijuana concentrate and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana should be vacated."
In the end, the court let the meth conviction stand. But the marijuana matters were tossed based on earlier precedent and a Colorado statute that "permits a defendant to receive post-conviction relief if 'there has been significant change in the law, applied to the applicant's conviction or sentence, allowing in the interest of justice retroactive application of the changed legal standard.'"