Colorado has been a front runner in the legal debate regarding drug use and possession for many years now. As a very forward thinking state, Colorado recently passed House Bill 19-1263 into law with the goal of reducing incarceration rates for offenders charged with drug possession in small or personal amounts.
An added benefit of this new bill is an attempt to get drug users the help and treatment they need, instead of putting them in jail. This effort is intended to reduce the cost burden on taxpayers of keeping drug offenders in jail and with hopes of reducing the drug dependency issues many Colorado residents face.
How Has The Law Changed?
Effective March 1st of 2020, possession of most drugs up 4 grams is now considered a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Typically when you have a schedule 1 drug on you, it is an automatic felony which can come with very serious consequences. Now, the same offence will be deemed a misdemeanor as long as you have less than 4 grams on you for most schedule 1 and 2 drugs.
Repeat offenders with four or more charges of possession under 4 grams will get you bumped up to a felony or by having more than the allowed 4 grams on your person. So even though the laws are less strict, that doesn’t mean that you can have large amounts on you or keep getting arrested with small amounts without serious consequences to follow.
There is still one exception to this bill for GHB. Gamma-hydroxybutyrate is commonly known as the date rape drug and is still a felony to have any amount of GHB in your possession as this is not a recreational use drug, but a drug only used for ill will intentions.
Marijuana possession laws have also changed, but the amounts allowed in your possession are much higher than other drugs. Carrying 3 or more ounces of marijuana concentrates or 6 ounces of marijuana now comes with a level 1 misdemeanor and 3 ounces of concentrates/6 ounces of marijuana or less is now a level 2 misdemeanor. Possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana is no longer an arrestable offence.
What Are The Goals Of This Bill?
By reducing the charges imposed for drug possession, the state’s goal is to lower the amount of people that are jailed as a punishment and aims to focus on getting people treatment so that we can better our communities. Since these charges are now misdemeanors, the penalties are much less severe, usually consisting of probation and/or drug treatment classes.
Keeping people out of our jails for petty drug possession will help lower the taxpayer costs involved with operating Colorado’s jail systems. Reducing the amount of inmates lowers the cost of providing food and paying staff needed to be able to handle large amounts of inmates.
This is a big step forward towards defelonizing drug possession in Colorado, but even misdemeanor drug charges come with serious penalties that can dramatically affect your life going forward. Here at Rector Law Firm we have helped countless clients get favorable outcomes on drug charge cases from possession to manufacturing and distribution. If you have been charged with a drug crime, feel free to get in touch with our Colorado Springs drug crime attorneys and get the help you need in court.