to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Case No.
Attorneys for Petitioner: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney
General Kevin E. McReynolds, Assistant Attorney General
Attorneys for Respondent: Douglas K. Wilson, Public Defender
Sean James Lacefield, Deputy Public Defender Denver, Colorado
JUSTICE EID dissents, and JUSTICE COATS and JUSTICE HOOD join
in the dissent.
This case requires us to determine if Amendment 64 to the
Colorado Constitution, which legalized possession of small
amounts of marijuana, deprived the State of the power to
continue to prosecute cases where there was a nonfinal
conviction for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana
and where there was a pending right to appeal (subsequently
exercised by filing a timely notice of appeal) at the time
the Amendment became effective. We hold that it did.
Facts and Procedural History
On October 27, 2011, the police arrested Respondent Pamela
Boyd after she and her boyfriend sold marijuana to an
undercover officer. Boyd admitted to possessing small amounts
of marijuana for personal use, but denied any involvement in
distribution. The total marijuana collected from Boyd weighed
less than one ounce. On August 8, 2012, a jury found Boyd
guilty of both attempt to distribute marijuana and possession
of marijuana. The trial court sentenced Boyd on November 14,
2012. Then on December 10, 2012, Amendment 64-a Colorado
citizen initiative that legalized the possession of up to one
ounce of marijuana for personal use-became effective.
See Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 16(3)(a). On
December 21, 2012, Boyd filed a timely notice of appeal. On
appeal, Boyd argued that because the Amendment legalized
possession of less than one ounce of marijuana while she
still had a pending right to appeal, her conviction for
possession of less than one ounce of marijuana should be
vacated. The court of appeals in a split decision agreed and
reversed her possession conviction. People v. Boyd,
2015 COA 109, ¶ 46, ___ P.3d ___. Judge Bernard
dissented. Id. at ¶ 49. We granted
Standard of Review
The proper interpretation of a constitutional amendment is a
question of law that we review de novo. Danielson v.
Dennis, 139 P.3d 688, 691 (Colo. 2006).
Amendment 64 legalized the possession of less than one ounce
of marijuana. Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 16(3)(a).
Specifically, it provides: "Notwithstanding any other
provision of law, the following act[ ] [is] not unlawful and
shall not be an offense under Colorado law or the law of any
locality within Colorado . . . for persons twenty-one years
of age or older: . . . [p]ossessing . . . one ounce or less
of marijuana." Id. The Amendment supersedes
laws that had previously criminalized possession of one ounce
or less of marijuana. See id. at § 16(8)
("[E]xcept where otherwise indicated in the text, [all
provisions of this section] shall supersede
conflicting state statutory, local charter, ordinance, or
resolution, and other state and local
This case presents an opportunity to resolve whether
Amendment 64 deprived the State of the power to continue to
prosecute cases where there was a nonfinal conviction for
possession of less than one ounce of marijuana with a pending
right to appeal when Amendment 64 became effective. To
resolve this, we examine the State's authority to
continue prosecuting a criminal defendant ...