Bill to lower drug possession penalties continues through state legislature | VailDaily.com

Bill to lower drug possession penalties continues through state legislature

State lawmakers are considering reducing the penalties for drug possession offenses, in hopes of prioritizing treatment for addiction over punishment. Getty Images / iStockphoto

A bill proposing lower penalties for drug possession offenses continues to make its way through the state Legislature, passing in a split 3-2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

The proposal, known as House Bill 19-1263, would essentially lower the penalties for possession of schedule I and II drugs from felonies to misdemeanors, in hopes of prioritizing treatment for addiction in lieu of incarceration.

“(The bill) focuses on addressing drug abuse as a public health issue rather than wasting resources and money incarcerating people who are in need of treatment,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Pete Lee, a sponsor of the bill. “It will help nonviolent drug offenders get the resources they need without straining Colorado’s already overcrowded prisons.”

The bill will head to the Senate Finance Committee next, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.