This week the Colorado Legislature passed three important pieces of reform legislation. These proposals are now awaiting Governor Hickenlooper’s signature.
Below is a statement from Art Way, state director, Colorado and senior director of criminal justice reform strategy with the Drug Policy Alliance:
“Given national efforts to escalate a failed approach to drug policy, these state proposals reveal a continuing appetite for reform in Colorado. These victories speak to ending collateral consequences, holding police accountable and establishing a public health approach to drug use.
“The passage of HB-1266 is overdue and welcome at the same time. We applaud Reps. Hooten and Melton for their efforts to ensure people impacted by the collateral consequences of past marijuana charges are able to petition and ultimately seal their records related to behaviors that are now legal. This will positively impact many Coloradoans who continue to struggle in areas of housing, education and employment due to past marijuana charges for behaviors that are now legal.
“Similarly, it is long overdue that our state provide a certain level of transparency and accountability to the questionable practice of asset forfeiture. HB 17-1313 mandates law enforcement agencies to report actions that result in seizures under state and federal asset forfeiture laws. Moreover the bill requires state law enforcement agencies who look to circumvent more stringent state law by using federal seizure law only do so if the property in question is worth more than $50,000. This will prevent day to day minor abuses of asset forfeiture law on behalf of law enforcement and bring this often dark practice into the light of accountability.
“Lastly, we are pleased to announce four LEAD pilot programs will be funded over the next three years. Monies for this innovative approach to drug dependency will come from the state’s marijuana tax cash fund. Innovative funding schemes and the use of tax revenue through Amendment 64 motivated many to support that groundbreaking reform. LEAD is a pre-booking diversion program designed to promote public health interventions while reducing the role of the criminal justice system in the management of substance use-related problems. This annual 2.4 million dollar budget allocation from the Colorado Dep’t of Human Services, at the request of Drug Policy Alliance, will become law once the budget is signed by the governor.”