Drug Possession No Longer Felony in Colorado

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a drug reform bill that will re-classify nearly all drug possession charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Full story after the jump.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has signed HB19-1263 into law, which makes the possession of four grams or less of any Schedule I through IV controlled substance a drug misdemeanor. There are some stipulations, however, such as any possession of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), four- or more time offenders of possession of Schedule I and II substances, or former charges for any amount of Schedule III, IV, or V substances will be given a level 4 drug felony.

The bill also puts new cannabis guidelines in place: possession of over 6 ounces of flower or 3 ounces of concentrate are to be classified as a level 1 drug misdemeanor. Possession of 3 ounces or less of concentrates is a level 2 drug misdemeanor. A petty offense of no more than 2 ounces of marijuana, however, will not lead to arrest — formerly, possession of these amounts would have been a class 4 felony.

Those who are convicted of level 1 misdemeanors could be subject to 180 days in county jail or 2 years of probation. Level 2 misdemeanor convictions will receive 120 days in jail or a year in probation. In both cases, violation of probation will lead to serving time in county jail. These sentences overall reduce the draconian classifications and sentences for drug violations that were formerly in place.

The bill also highlights a community substance use and mental health services grant program, which will provide grants to counties for the purpose of building strategies like mental health treatment services, diversion programs, and substance use services to reduce the number of people in county jails. Counties can be eligible for these grants if they build these programs in collaboration with community-based organizations, law enforcement agencies, and public health agencies. They have appropriated $123,139 from the general fund to go to the judicial department and probations programs.

Along with these positive outcomes, the Joint Budget Committee released a report claiming that savings from the enactment of this bill could be anywhere from $8.6 million to $13.7 million over the next five years, the Denver Post reports.

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