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, July 22, 2011

Coloradans' use of drugs, alcohol much higher than U.S. average - The Denver Post

Coloradans' use of drugs, alcohol much higher than U.S. average - The Denver Post

Colorado's rates of marijuana and cocaine use, alcohol consumption, and binge drinking are far higher than the national average and among the highest states in the nation, according to a federal survey.

Coloradans reporting marijuana use grew from previous surveys, which may add fuel to the ongoing debate over legal medical marijuana.

The number of young adults who said they had used marijuana in the past year was 38.5 percent in the Colorado survey, compared with a national average of 29.1 percent. The queries of more than 137,000 Americans were made in 2008 and 2009.

The number reporting pot use was up 3 percentage points from the last survey, in 2007 and 2008.

The state also had higher-than-average rates of people with a major depression episode or serious thoughts of suicide, according to the survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"There are a number of categories we're in the top 20 percent, and this is one case where being in the top 20 percent is not a good thing," said Arthur Schut, deputy director of the Arapahoe House behavioral treatment center in Thornton.

"It's always worrisome when we look at Colorado and other mountain states for substance use and serious mental illness," said Charles Smith, director of the behavioral health division of the state Department of Human Services.

Colorado is hurt by funding challenges in behavioral services and isolation from potential care in mountain and "frontier" communities, Smith said.

Legalizing medical marijuana in Colorado is another potential factor researchers are studying, he added.

"It's early for us to kind of speculate, but we're looking at that very closely," Smith said.

Freeing marijuana sales is similar to past results from opening up liquor or other substances, Schut said. "It's a rather simple formula. . . . You have larger consumption when you have more access. It appears we've increased access, and therefore we've increased consumption."

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