Polis signs bill ‘defelonizing’ single-use drug possession for Schedule I and II substances

Posted at 10:55 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 22:34:26-04

DENVER – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed a law "defelonizing" single-use drug possession for Schedule I and II substances.

HB19-1263, which takes effect in 2020, "defelonizes" drug possession for substances such as heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and most other illicit drugs.

Under the newly passed law, those caught with small amounts of these drugs would face a misdemeanor instead of a felony charge. Dealers would still be punished with a felony, however.

MORE: Some see hope, others see problems in Colorado push to 'defelonize' drug possession

Supporters of the bill have said HB19-1263 is an effective way to stop "arresting away" the growing drug problem and also a way to save taxpayer money.

A report from the Joint Budget Committee found savings anywhere from $8.6 million to $13.7 million over the next five years before the bill became law.

The money saved by the state would be used for a grant program to help fund new treatment and substance abuse treatment centers.

Opponents of the measure disputed those savings, claiming the funds will come at the expense of county taxpayers and county jails, where those sentenced to jail time would now be held under the proposed changes.