A new Colorado Drug Crime Law is winding it’s way through the Colorado State Legislature. SB 12-163 if passsed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor, would reduce the penalty for possession of four grams or less of certain drugs from a class six felony to a class one misdemeanor, according to a weekly legislative report from Colorado Counties Incorporated.
The penalty for possession of more than four grams of certain drugs would be reduced from a class six felony to a class four felony under the bill’s provisions.
The bill appropriates the savings from the reduction in the criminal penalties to substance abuse treatment programs. The department of human services will develop a trauma-informed substance abuse treatment and best practices training program. The bill requires a post-enactment review after two years that addresses the impact of the bill on jails and the amount of funding for jail-based treatment.
The Bill’s Legislative Intent is clear and intelligently written:
SECTION 1. Legislative declaration. (1) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:
Colorado drug policy and public safety would be improved by better differentiating between drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts and those more serious offenders who engage in the crimes of distribution, manufacturing, and trafficking of drugs.
For those drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts, focusing efforts and funding on supervision and treatment in the community would be a more effective use of resources than the current system of escalating punishments that often result in a prison sentence.
H. Michael’s Take
This bill has many attackers — the Colorado Sheriffs who believe it will mean the reduction in the level of offense will crowd the jails, the anti-decriminalization of drugs folks – who believe this will be the start of a “slippery slope” leading to the end of the so called “war on drug” and many others.
My position is that this is a “spot on” attempt to address the realities of a limited amount of money to spend on the “war” and the need to better and more intelligently reasoned approaches to drug use. The dealers and importers of these drugs remain untouched. For the rest of us — it demonstrates the compassionate understanding of a State that has some wise folks at the helm.
For more information about this bill CLICK HERE