DENVER — Denver residents who have been convicted of low-level marijuana offenses can now request to have their record expunged through the city’s recently launched program, Turn Over a New Leaf. But past history in other states shows such initiatives are often under-utilized.
Grasslands, the full-service communications agency founded by veteran Colorado journalist Ricardo Baca, is working pro bono with Denver officials to spread the word about the new program. Thousands of Denver residents were convicted of minor marijuana offenses before 2013, the year Colorado’s historic legalization went into effect.
“When societal norms and laws change, we can’t just leave the past behind,” Mr. Baca said. “For the thousands of Denverites who have a pre-2013 cannabis conviction for doing something that is legally permitted today, they should be able to clear their record and receive help with what can be a complex process. We want to help ensure anybody who’s eligible knows about Denver’s Turn Over a New Leaf program.”
People with criminal records often face greater obstacles to finding housing, obtaining loans or gaining employment. But while many cities and states are offering expungement opportunities when laws change, The Pew Charitable Trusts organization reports that many of those eligible for expungement aren’t aware they can have their conviction vacated, or need assistance with paperwork and navigating the process.
“The community has played a critical role in Denver successfully regulating marijuana for more than five years,” said Ashley Kilroy, Director of Denver’s Office of Excise and Licenses and Office of Marijuana Policy. “We are very grateful that tradition is continuing with Grasslands partnering with Denver to promote the Turn Over a New Leaf program, so people with low-level marijuana convictions can get their records cleared as part of Denver’s vigorous effort to improve equity for individuals disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.”
Grasslands is working with the city of Denver to spread the word about four free clinics where people can learn about the expungement process and how to apply:
Saturday, Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Denver Conflict Center, 4140 Tejon St.
Sunday, Feb. 24, from 1-5 p.m. at Denver Park Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, 3385 Albion St.
Wednesday, March 6, from 5-8 p.m. at Servicios de La Raza, 3131 W. 14th Ave.
Thursday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cultivated Synergy, 2901 Walnut St.
Qualifying Denver residents can go online to Denvergov.org/ANewLeaf to print a pre-application form to expedite the clinic process, and can email any questions about the program to NewLeaf@Denvergov.org. Clinic attendance is not required to apply for expungement.
“Key to the success of the Turn Over a New Leaf program is ensuring people know of its existence and participate in it,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. ”We quickly realized that we needed help generating public awareness about Turn Over a New Leaf, and Grasslands was the logical choice to help us spread the word. They performed a great public service by saying yes to this campaign and I thank them for their work.”
Denver joins San Francisco, Seattle and other cities in the growing movement to vacate pre-legalization marijuana convictions. The city of Denver partnered with the Denver District Attorney’s office to create the program.
“At Grasslands, we feel strongly that all of us who work in the cannabis industry must take active measures to restore equity and justice for communities deeply affected by the war on drugs, and we appreciate what Denver officials are doing to help make things right,” Mr. Baca added.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Chloe Steerman, Account Director at Grasslands, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-751-8387.
About Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency
Grasslands is a full-service boutique agency working with clients in highly regulated industries. A nimble 10-person firm with offices in Denver and Los Angeles, Grasslands specializes in best-in-class Public Relations, Content Marketing, Social Media, Thought Leadership work, Newsletter Campaigns, Book Development and Event Execution for businesses and executives. Founder and CEO Ricardo Baca, a 20-year newspaper veteran, has built a seasoned team with more than six decades of top-level journalism experience at outlets including Men’s Health, The Denver Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, Seventeen, The Daily Beast and Wonkette—and PR experience with clients including IKEA North America, Farmers Insurance Group, K12 Inc., REI, Dupage Medical Group, Fisher-Price and Emeril Lagasse (bam!). Grasslands has a deep bench of experience supporting clients through product launches, acquisitions and IPOs, crisis management and capital funding initiatives.