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Colorado could reduce penalties for drug possession crimes

“Our state cannot afford to continue doling out felony convictions and sending people to prison for drug possession,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, one of four sponsors of the bill, in a statement. “It has not made our community safer, but it has created a whole host of problems for many people and families in our community. Permanently branding drug users as criminals makes it harder for them to access the things they need to get back on their feet, like stable housing and employment.”

"Under Colorado’s current laws, possession of any amount of schedule I or II drugs (including heroin, psilocybin, cocaine and more) is a level 4 drug felony, which carries a presumptive punishment of six months to a year in prison along with a mandatory parole period."

"If the new bill passes, the penalty for those drug possession charges would be dropped to a level 1 drug misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to two years of probation. Additionally, punishments for possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana would be lowered to a misdemeanor. The bill would also create a county court drug grant program to provide grants to establish misdemeanor drug courts in areas where they don’t already exist. The bill wouldn’t make any changes to charges related to drug distribution offenses."

"District Attorney Bruce Brown attended the hearing on Tuesday to voice his support of the bill."

“At its core, as the bill’s language reflects, drug addiction is a medical issue and not a criminal issue,” said Brown. “Where the line is blurred is because the criminal justice system has become the primary system established to deal with what is essentially a medical problem. … While controversial on some level, there’s a consensus at the capital for enacting a bill of this nature. This bill comes on the heels of a radical 2013 change in punishment with respect to drug crimes and possession crimes.”

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#LeslieHerod #criminaljusticereform #prisonpopulation #drugpossession #addiction

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