DENVER (CBS4) – Many Denver residents who were cited for illegal possession of marijuana before 2014 have a second chance at a clean criminal record, thanks to the “Turn Over a New Leaf” program. The program is a citywide effort to give those cited for possession of small amounts of marijuana prior to recreational legalization in 2014.
Saturday, city leaders organized a clinic to answer questions about the program.
After its launch, more than 79 people, including Kacy Denolf, applied for their convictions to be vacated through the program. Denolf, 29, was cited for possession of marijuana in Denver when she was 18. She said she was in her home when an officer saw marijuana on her table, through the window.
“They did find a small grow. It was four plants, and then an eighth of marijuana,” Denolf said.
Denolf said her citation hindered her ability to pursue a criminal justice degree, which she was studying for at the time of her citation. In the years to follow, her criminal record was also an issue when it came to job, loan, and housing applications.
“You always have that paranoia when you have to mention on the job application, or the rental application, that they are going to deny you,” Denolf said. “When I applied for jobs, nobody could hire me.”
Denolf said her citation was directly to blame for many jobs being denied.
“People would love to hire me, but they were unable to. Because, it was against their policy to hire someone with a drug charge,” Denolf said.
Mayor Michael Hancock said the program would allow low-level offenders to have a second shot, while also giving them equal opportunity to fill positions they are qualified for.
“(They can) be considered for important jobs like government, teaching and the military. We feel nobody should be prevented from getting these jobs, and having access to these opportunities, for activities that are now legal,” Hancock said.
The program would vacate, or seal, the citations for those who qualify, so long as their citation was issued in the City of Denver. The program is not applicable to those who were issued citations outside of the city. However, Hancock hoped the program would encourage other cities to follow suit.
“It was really special to know nobody else was going to get arrested for the same thing I did, and to have that burden on their life,” Denolf said. “It is definitely turning over a new leaf. It lives up to its name.”
For more information on how you can apply for the program, visit the Turn Over A New Leaf webpage.