Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

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.

Friday, February 04, 2011

As synthetic drug Spice gains popularity, law enforcers find ways to shut down supply - The Denver Post

As synthetic drug Spice gains popularity, law enforcers find ways to shut down supply - The Denver Post

It's popular with adolescents, provides a marijuana-like high, is available online and on Colorado store shelves, and it's legal — for now.

As Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids show increasingly public impacts — at Colorado poison control, among probationers and teen addicts, and recently at the Air Force Academy — law enforcers are looking for ways to nip demand for the drug in the bud.

Colorado authorities say they suspect increased use of Spice, plant material sprayed with THC-like chemicals, though that spike also coincides with the first tests available to screen for the tough-to-track substance.

Ban in the works

With no quality-control standards on the drug, some samples have tested 100 times more potent than marijuana, and the worst side effects have been more severe, said Tamar Wilson, staff attorney with the Colorado District Attorneys' Council.

Her group wants to outlaw any form of synthetic cannabinoid and is pushing a bill to make penalties for possession even harsher than those for marijuana. A bill has not yet been filed in Colorado but is already drawing bipartisan support.

"People are going to emergency rooms because of Spice," Wilson said. "This is not a marijuana substitute, though that may be why people initially try it. Young people are getting it and bringing it to schools. We realized it really is a significant problem."

Should the planned legislation pass, Colorado would join 11 other states that ban synthetic cannabinoids.

So-called designer drugs such as Spice — also known as K2 and other brand names — by nature are tough to track.

They are created in laboratories to produce effects similar to more traditional drugs but remain different enough on a molecular level to escape detection in urine tests.

And because chemists can tinker with those chemical formulas, such drugs can also be tough to ban.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration in November gave notice that it would move to reclassify five popular chemical varieties of Spice as controlled substances.

Producers now advertise new versions of the drug that skirt the compounds on the DEA's target list.

"Folks that are manufacturing designer drugs, they're in it to make money," said Mike Turner, a DEA spokesman. "It's possible they could tweak a molecule or whatever. We would just act on those as those come about."

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