February 21, 2024
These days, when you read about drug crimes in Colorado, you’ve probably come to expect that they are concerning one drug in particular: marijuana.
Since the legalization of marijuana, Colorado has experienced decreases in some marijuana-related crimes, but also increased domestic trafficking and conflicts with neighboring states frustrated by the law.
But by focusing on marijuana, we may be ignoring other drugs in Colorado. The ones that are still completely illegal.
And the use of these drugs is quickly increasing in our state.
Prescription Drug Use and the Opioid Epidemic
Some of the most dangerous drugs can be found in our medicine cabinets. Prescription drugs like Percocet, Oxycontin, and Vicodin are often prescribed to patients who have high levels of pain, but can easily become addictive, and are being abused by individuals who have become dependent on their drug of choice. Unfortunately, this dependency is dangerous, even posing the risk of overdose and death.
Sadly, the amount of people who are abusing and dying from these drugs is increasing, and it’s something that has become a huge problem in Colorado specifically. Only five years ago, ours was the second-worst state for prescription drug abuse.
As prescription drug abuse has grown around the rest of the country, Colorado’s ranking has fallen, but prescription drugs still remain the number one cause for overdose over any other drug. Almost two-thirds of all overdose deaths (which just surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death) are from prescription drug use.
Increased Rates of Heroin Abuse
When prescription opioids are not enough to treat pain, or become harder to obtain, many users turn to heroin. Heroin is quickly becoming a more serious epidemic throughout Colorado.
In the West, heroin is smuggled down Interstate 70 and Interstate 25. These two highways meet smack in the middle of Denver. Colorado has seen more heroin passing through the state than ever before. As it becomes more available, more users are turning to it for an intense – and (surprisingly) less expensive – way to get high.
But the increased usage of heroin has led to increased deaths from heroin abuse and overdose as well. In 2003, 21 people in the state of Colorado died from heroin. In 2015, that number grew to 157. That means that heroin deaths increased over 700% in the state of Colorado over two years.
The Impact on Drug Crimes Sentencing
The amount of drug overdoses in our state is terrifying to many. Both heroin and prescription opioids are seriously addictive and harmful to users. If you are caught unlawfully distributing or possessing either substance, you will be hit with serious charges.
Heroin is considered a Schedule I drug in Colorado, a classification assigned to only the most dangerous drugs. There are options for first-time offenders who are caught with very small amounts of heroin to be directed to rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration, but this is usually not the case.
Possession or sale of heroin is considered a Class 3 felony in Colorado. With regards to selling heroin, an offender may face between 2-24 years in prison and/or fines of up to $750,000. If you are caught manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with the intention to distribute heroin over state lines, you may face federal court. Federal courts have mandatory minimum sentencing for drug trafficking.
The state of Colorado knows the risks it faces if the heroin epidemic is not put to a stop immediately, so lawmakers are not shy about cracking down on people who are caught. If you have been charged with crimes related to heroin, prescription drugs, or any other controlled substance, the best way to protect your rights and your future is to contact a knowledgeable Colorado drug crimes attorney today.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.