Colorado Bill Proposes Changes to Drug Sentences

By Kamika Dunlap on February 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Colorado is looking at making its first large-scale drug-sentencing reform.

New proposed legislation (House Bill 1352) is aimed not only at saving the state money but finding ways to offer drug offenders less jail time and more rehab, the Denver Post reports.

The bill creates a distinction between possession of drugs and distribution of drugs and stiffen penalties for those who deal drugs to children.

The sponsors of the bill say Colorado is beginning to realize that locking up non-violent drug offenders does not cut recidivism and is not the best use of public-safety dollars.

The bill would make changes to drug sentences.

But some argue that argued allowing users to carry up to 4 grams of drugs worsen already difficult problems of dealing in urban areas.

Backers of the bill include prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, community advocates and the governor. They say it could help prevent many crimes from being committed in the first place, such as burglary when a criminal is motivated by drug use.

The state is looking to work with community rehabilitation programs operating with state and federal money to change their approach handling drug offenders.

Here are the proposed changes in under the new bill:

  • One in five of Colorado's 22,600 inmates in prison for primary drug offenses could qualify for lighter sentences.
  • Illegal pot users would be able to carry up to 12 ounces before facing felony charges under the bill. The current cap is 8 ounces.
  • Lesser sentences could mean the difference between up to six years and up to 18 months in most cases.

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