Colorado De-Felonizes Schedule I and II Drugs
Colorado has, once again, taken a step forward in the fight to end drug abuse. What the Coloradan legislature has recognized is that charging every alleged drug user with a felony won’t help anyone, and it certainly won’t help the user. That is why the use and possession of small amounts of Schedule I and II drugs are no longer considered felonies.
What Are Schedule I and II Drugs?
In the 1970s, our government declared a war on drugs and those who used and sold them. As a result of this new movement, certain drugs were classified as “controlled substances” and placed into special categories depending on how addictive they were and how often they were used for medical purposes. The classifications were called “Schedules.” Schedule I is the most tightly controlled group, with Schedule V being the least. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no medical purpose and highly addictive. On the other hand, Schedule V drugs are commonly prescribed and are not particularly addictive, though they can still be dangerous if taken often enough or in large quantities.
Schedules can vary from state to state, as each state is allowed to make their own decisions about what drugs should be regulated. For example, Marijuana is technically a Schedule I drug on the federal level, but the Colorado legislature legalized it in 2012. While you can use marijuana in Colorado if you are of age, using it in other states can result in a felony charge.
Examples of Schedule I drugs in Colorado include:
Examples of Schedule II drugs in Colorado include:
In contrast to Schedule I drugs, Schedule II drugs can be prescribed, as they can help with certain conditions and pains; however, this is done sparingly, as they can still be highly addictive. Prior to this newest bill, using or possessing either kind of drug was enough to get you charged with a felony. That has, thankfully, finally been changed.
De-Felonizing Laws and Colorado
In May 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed HB19-1263, which has only just taken effect in 2020. Before this bill, use and possession of Schedule I or II drugs could result in a felony charge. Felony charges often carry heavy sentences, with hefty fines and lengthy stays in prison. On top of that, being labeled a felon also means that you lose certain rights once you are released from prison. Felons may lose the right to:
- Own a firearm
- Travel internationally
- Be employed by certain government agencies
A felony conviction essentially ensures that you are never done paying for your alleged crime. No matter how much you pay in fines or how long you stay behind bars, there are still long-term consequences of a conviction. That is why this new bill is a step in the right direction for Colorado when it comes to drug crimes.
What De-Felonizing Means
While Schedule I and II drugs are de-felonized now, that does not mean that those drugs are now no longer illegal for use or distribution. In fact, those caught with large amounts of these controlled substances will still be charged with a felony, as it will be assumed they intended to sell the drugs. However, if police catch you with a small amount of these drugs, the prosecution could only pursue possession charges because it is assumed the drugs are only for personal use only. These cases will likely involve misdemeanor charges, which carry a lighter sentence than felonies.
While you will likely not face as much jail time with a misdemeanor or be classified as a felon, any drug crime can result in serious penalties. These penalties can put you in jail for some time, cost you hundreds of dollars in fines, and affect your reputation. That is why, if you are facing drug crime charges in Colorado, you need a skilled Grand Junction criminal defense attorney. Call Peters & Nolan, LLC at (970) 243-4357 to find out how we can help you.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.