Will Governor’s Focus on Painkiller Abuse Lead to More DUIDs in Colorado?
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
It is no secret that all eyes have been on Colorado for its recent legalization of recreational marijuana use. Some have claimed that the problems associated with marijuana have gotten worse, while others say that things are demonstrably better now. But while the majority of people focus on this issue, behind the scenes Coloradoans have been grappling with a much more dangerous problem: the recreational—and illegal—use of painkillers.
Recently, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper announced a campaign to end this illegal use and abuse of prescription drugs.“Take Meds Seriously” is an advertising campaign that seeks to increase awareness about Colorado’s prescription drug abuse problem and educate Colorado citizens about prescription drug use and the very real dangers that go along with it.Click To Tweet
The Problem: Prescription Drug Abuse in Colorado
According to the new Take Meds Seriously website, 35 Coloradans died each month in 2013 as a result of unintentional prescription drug poisonings. From 2012-2013, “Colorado ranked 12th in the nation in self-reported nonmedical use of opioid painkillers.”
With numbers like these, there is no denying that prescription drug use in Colorado is a real problem. The governor’s new PR campaign is hopefully a step toward lowering these numbers in coming months and years. According to the governor, one of the major problems with this epidemic is the fact that so few people seem to be aware of it, and those who are are not talking about it. The Take Meds Seriously campaign hopes to change that, not only by educating the public, but also by creating the opportunity for conversation and opening up the floor for people to discuss this very serious issue.
Is This PR Campaign the Solution?
Despite the good intentions of the governor’s new campaign, this strategy does come with its drawbacks. First and foremost, Colorado citizens have to be aware of the fact that they are now going to be monitored more closely than ever.
Although the campaign does not explicitly mention the involvement of police forces, a promotion like this will very often be accompanied by a police crackdown. With Colorado officials placing so much emphasis on the dangers of prescription drugs, both the general public and law enforcement officials will likely become more aware of the drug abuse problem, which may lead to hyper-sensitivity. Ideally, this would just mean better and more effective law enforcement, but unfortunately, that may not be the case. Such emphasis on drug laws may mean that some overzealous cops could get hung up on this new effort and begin eagerly and perhaps even obsessively seeking out drug crime offenders.
This could mean more serious consequences for people accused of possession of a controlled substance (which, if you are charged, could constitute a class 4 or 6 felony, or a class 1 misdemeanor) or the distribution of a controlled substance (which may classify as a class 2, 3, 4, or 5 felony, or a class 1 misdemeanor). These charges can come with very serious penalties, including jail time and hefty fines.
Some of the consequences that can come with drug crimes in Colorado include:
- Class 1 misdemeanor: six to 18 months in jail and/or a fine ranging from $600 – $5,000
- Class 4 felony: two to six years in jail and/or a fine ranging from $2,000 – $500,000
- Class 5 felony: one to four years in jail and/or a fine ranging from $1,000 – $100,000
- Class 6 felony: one to two years in jail and/or a fine of $1,000 – $100,000
And, of course, with any arrest comes the stain on your permanent criminal record that can hurt your chances at securing a good job, getting into college, finding housing, and more. None of these are consequences that you want to face, but all of them are possible results of being charged with drug crimes.
Do Not Be A Target
Do not let yourself fall victim to an overeager police crackdown, and do not let yourself be targeted by overzealous police officers. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Colorado drug lawyer who will be willing to fight for you and defend your rights.
Remember that penalties resulting from drug charges can be severe, and if you have been charged unfairly, you need to take these charges seriously. Despite Colorado’s new vigor in its desire to rid the state of drug incidents, you are still entitled to your rights. If you have been charged with a crime related to prescription drug abuse, contact our law offices today to start fighting back and protecting your rights.
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.