Articles Posted in Drug Charges

school-books-apple_3516561.jpgColorado’s Amendment 64, passed earlier this month, sought to legalize amounts of marijuana under one ounce for personal – including recreational – use. However, several Colorado universities have decided that while the state’s law may allow marijuana, the university’s code of conduct will still ban the substance and impose penalties on students who are caught with marijuana. The universities that are planning to continue banning marijuana on campus include Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, and Front Range Community College.

University officials cite two reasons for the decision to keep prohibiting marijuana use on campus. First, they note that restrictions in the student code of conduct against marijuana use are similar to the restrictions on alcohol use. Though alcohol use is legal under state law, the code of conduct limits the places on campus that alcohol can be sold or consumed.

Second, officials note that public universities are required to abide by several federal laws, including the Drug-Free Workplace Act, the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments, and the Controlled Substance Act. Banning marijuana on campus keeps the university in compliance with these rules, recognizing that under federal law, a conviction for marijuana possession still carries criminal penalties.
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Voters throughout Colorado will have the chance to vote on Amendment 64 this November, and voters in Berthoud and Fort Collins will also look at two local measures. All three measures discuss the regulation and sale of marijuana in the state of Colorado.

According to a recent article in the Reporter-Herald, the basic issues on these ballots include:

  • Amendment 64. Amendment 64 calls for regulating marijuana at the state level in a similar manner to alcohol, allowing people to possess, use, transfer, or transport under one ounce of marijuana or up to six plants. Coloradoans under age 21 would be prohibited from possessing or using marijuana, and those convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana would face penalties similar to those already in place for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Voters throughout Colorado will have a chance to vote on this amendment.
  • Question 300. Question 300 would ban medical marijuana growing operations, dispensaries, and other related businesses within the town of Berthoud and give existing operations 90 days to close their doors. Only Berthoud residents will see this measure on their ballot.
  • Question 301. Question 301 would repeat Fort Collins’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and related businesses and replace it with regulations allowing dispensaries to operate under certain conditions. Only Fort Collins residents will see this measure on their ballot.

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A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found that a majority of respondents favored Amendment 64, a Colorado ballot measure that would legalize marijuana use and regulate it in a manner similar to alcohol use, according to a recent article in The Huffington Post. A similar ballot measure was proposed in 2006, when voters defeated it.


The poll, conducted during the first week of August, asked 779 Coloradoans their opinions on the upcoming Amendment 64 ballot measure. Forty-seven percent of responders said that they supported the Amendment and would vote in favor of it if the vote were held today. Thirty-eight percent of responders said they would vote against the measure. The remaining 15 percent were “undecided” at this time.
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The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a new federal law reducing the required minimum prison sentence for drug convictions involving crack cocaine applies to those who were convicted before the law was passed, but not sentenced until after it was passed.


The law, known as the Fair Sentencing Act, went into effect in August 2010. Among other things, it reduces the required prison terms for those convicted of possessing or selling crack cocaine to more closely match the required terms for those convicted of possessing or selling powder cocaine under federal law. The disparity in sentencing has resulted in many people facing longer sentences than others merely due to the form the cocaine involved was in, even if the amounts were approximately the same.
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Colorado is one of several states recently to pass laws criminalizing the sale or use of “bath salts,” a synthetic drug that isn’t actually intended to be used in the bath at all, according to a recent article in the Durango Herald. The product is also sometimes sold as plant food or bug repellant.

The active ingredient in “bath salts” is mephedrone, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a stimulant that acts similarly to amphetamines in the human body. The “bath salts” are typically inhaled, but using mephedrone or MDPV in this way is known to increase the risks of hallucinations, paranoia, and violence as well as creating the stimulant effect.


Colorado’s new law makes it a misdemeanor to buy or possess bath salts and a felony to sell them. Several U.S. states have passed similar laws, and both the U.S. federal government and the government of Canada are considering laws to make the active ingredients in “bath salts” illegal.
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A bill introduced in the Colorado Senate to reduce penalties for some drug-related charges has been amended to call first for a study of Colorado’s sentencing penalties for drug-related convictions, including the actual sentences being carried out by Coloradans convicted of a Colorado drug-related felony, according to a recent article in the Aurora Sentinel.

The original bill sought to reduce the severity of some drug-related possession charges from a felony to a misdemeanor if the person was only convicted of having enough of certain drugs for personal use. The bill’s sponsor argued that the bill would reduce the number of people in state prisons and encourage the use of penalties, like probation and drug treatment programs, to help people manage drug addictions.

Opposition from several different voices, however, has led the bill’s sponsor to amend his original bill. Now, the bill asks for a study of drug convictions in Colorado to determine the best way to go about changing the penalties for various drug-related convictions. The change came in response to criticism from county prosecutors that the original bill would undermine the work of drug courts and put additional pressure on overcrowded county jail programs.
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A bill was recently introduced in the Colorado legislature to decrease some types of drug offenses from felony charges to misdemeanor Colorado crimes. The change would mean that merely possessing small amounts of some controlled substances for personal use would come with a smaller maximum jail sentence, according to a recent article in the Denver Post. Colorado Springs Drug Crime

Supporters say the bill helps reduce the number of people currently housed in Colorado prisons and helps those convicted get treatment for drug addictions. Opponents of the bill, however, call it “a financial nightmare” for Colorado counties. Reducing certain felony charges to misdemeanors would mean that any imprisonment sentence would be carried out in a county jail, not a state prison, which means more costs for counties.
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Law enforcement officers at the University of Colorado, Boulder are preparing to hand out $100 fines and possibly place students in a position for further penalties if they are caught using marijuana illegally during the informal “4/20 smokeout” celebration planned on April 20, 2012. Students may be arrested and will have their names included in the campus police’s daily online crime log.

police_866753.jpgStudents are planning to celebrate the day by hosting a free concert by musician Wyclef Jean. Using marijuana is not required to participate in the festivities; in fact, recreational use remains against the law in Colorado. Police say that their intentions to enforce Colorado’s marijuana laws are intended to protect the reputation of the university as well as the safety of the campus and surrounding communities. Police also plan to strictly enforce the university’s parking rules, since many visitors are expected to show up for the event.
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The drive to gather enough signatures to put a referendum legalizing marijuana for personal use recently wrapped up, with enough signatures brought in to put the measure on the 2012 November ballot, according to a recent article in The New American.marijuana-bush_1429104.jpg

The measure that will appear on the ballot would allow adults age 21 and over to use marijuana for recreational purposes as well as medical ones. Adults 21 or older would be allowed to have up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use and be allowed to raise up to six plants. The bill also creates a system for state government to regulate certain businesses to sell marijuana, and earmarks the first $40 million in tax and license revenue from these businesses to go to the state’s public schools. Individual communities would still be allowed to ban marijuana-selling businesses, if they wish.
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Federal drug law enforcement agencies are considering a “crackdown” on many Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries, similar to that carried out in California, according to a recent article in the Huffington Post. The crackdown was announced only a few days after several groups turned in sufficient signatures to get the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” Act placed on the 2012 ballot.marijuana_2286406.jpg

Colorado law permits dispensaries that offer marijuana for medical reasons, but federal law currently prohibits the use of marijuana for any purpose. Recently, several dispensaries that are operating within 1000 feet of a school were sent letters from federal law enforcement warning that they had to shut down. Local laws allow the dispensaries to operate within 1000 feet of schools, but federal law prohibits this.
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