Happy Defelonization, Colorado! Schedule 1, 2 drugs officially “defelonized” and penalties for possession lowered in the Centennial State
It's a huge win for culture and for The People of Colorado
Last May, Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that took the teeth out of Federal drug penalties in this state. The bill, known affectionately as HB19-1263, defelonized personal possession of any schedule 1 or 2 substance — reclassifying the “offense” as a misdemeanor.
Well, my fellow Coloradans, that bill officially went into effect at the beginning of this month. And its impact on the future of this state is undoubtedly going to be positive.
Not just because drugs are going to be less of threat to keep on your person, but also because, realistically, HB19-1263 will stop the unnecessary incarceration of Coloradans who don’t actually deserve to be locked up. If you’re busted with a ten-strip of acid, an eight-ball of coke, a gram of molly or some DMT concentrate, you won’t be thrown in jail anymore (as long as you’re only packing under 4 grams); you won’t be charged with a felony; your future opportunities won’t be stripped away from you and your record won’t be forever stained just because the fuzz found a little somethin’ somethin’ in your pocket.
That’s huge. How many people have lost their livelihoods, their friends, their family and their prospects because of Federal possession penalties? How many families have been ruined?
Now, though, that’s going to stop. And it will be good for the state on a financial level as well. Keeping people locked up is an expensive ordeal (which we, the free taxpayers of America, pay for), and keeping them locked up, draining state resources and racking up expenses, just for possession is ridiculous and unjust.
The Joint Budget Committee ran the numbers. They calculated that, in its first five years alone, this bill could save Colorado between $8.6 and $13.7 million.
So, it will save individuals, it will save families and it will save a lot of money. And it will open up those jail cells for real criminals — people who have committed violent or evil acts, and who actually deserve to be rotting behind bars.
Perhaps best of all, though, the resources that are saved by not sending these people to prison will be made available to actually address the systemic issue that got them locked up in the first place.
“We’re going to see hundreds of people each year who will no longer be put in state prisons with a felony offense,” says State Representative Leslie Herod, who spearheaded this bill. “This will help move people towards getting the help that they need.”
According to Herod, Colorado has already put millions of state-dollars towards treatment and rehabilitation. Which is where the solution to the drug problem truly lies — locking it up does nothing except exaperbate the issue. Offering treatment and rehab for people suffering from addiction is really the most effective way to fight the drug war. Now, hopefully, that will become Colorado’s modus operandi.
The only unfortunate part about HB19-1263 is the fact that it does not retroactively expunge people’s records, of drug possession violations. Which is to say, if you got busted a decade ago with blow on you, were charged with a felony and served time in jail, that offense won’t be wiped from your record. Even though, now, someone apprehended for exactly the same thing with exactly the same amount on them might be let off with a simple misdemeanor.
By in large though, this bill will serve the people of Colorado well. It will help keep people out of jail for possession and it will save the state (and thereby the state’s taxpayers) a lot of money.
Happy Defelonization, Colorado. This is a huge win for The People and the culture of this state.