Colorado is often seen as a pioneer in drug decriminalization efforts, having been the first state in the nation to legalize the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. A bill recently passed by both the Colorado House and Senate addresses the penalization of certain drug charges that could have a significant effect on Colorado residents.
Under this bill, Schedule I and II drug possession crimes would be penalized as level 1 drug misdemeanors. Currently, these offenses are penalized as level 4 drug felonies. In addition, the bill lowers the penalties for those in possession of 12 ounces or more of marijuana. However, the reduction in penalties under this bill does not apply to drug distribution crimes.
Those in favor of the bill believe that it will help reduce prison overcrowding. The bill has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. According to one proponent, the bill will keep those who commit low-level drug offenses from bearing the burden of having a lifelong felony on their criminal record.
This bill is significant, as there is a big difference between how misdemeanors are penalized in Colorado versus felonies. Unfortunately, too many people in the state are still charged with and convicted of drug offenses, adding to an already overburdened court system and prison population. This bill would address these facts in a manner that many approve of. Whether it will be signed into law remains to be seen, so it is an issue to keep an eye on, as it could affect many in the state.