DENVER (AP) — Drug users could end up getting treatment instead of long prison sentences under legislation picking up bipartisan support at the Capitol.
Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, plans to introduce a bill as early as Tuesday that would change the standard for when someone is prosecuted as a drug user as opposed to a drug dealer. Currently, the tipping point is whether a person has more or less than one gram. The bill would change that to four grams for most drugs.
The aim is to use the money saved from reduced sentences to pay for drug treatment.
“I'm convinced that warehousing people who are addicts doesn't do anything to solve the problem,” Waller said.
Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, plan to back the proposal in the Senate.
The proposal is based on recommendations of the criminal justice commission appointed by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, Denver's former district attorney, and has the backing of Republican Attorney General John Suthers.
Steadman said he wants to draw a better distinction between drug users who are feeding their own habit but haven't crossed over into violent crime to support it and dealers possessing larger quantities of drugs.
He said commission members came up with the new four-gram standard after talking to addicts as well as drug investigators about what amounts of drugs they think they separate users from dealers.
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Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010