The penalties for possessing, using or distributing drugs in Colorado vary depending on the type of controlled substance involved. Colorado law classifies drugs based on their addictive properties and medical uses. A Schedule I drug is a controlled substance that has a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical uses. Heroin and hallucinogens like PCP, LSD and psilocybin are Schedule I controlled substances. This means that possessing, using or selling heroin is punished severely in the Centennial State.
The penalties for using or possessing heroin
Using heroin in Colorado is considered a Level 2 drug misdemeanor. Individuals convicted on Level 2 drug misdemeanor charges can be sent to jail for between three months and one year and ordered to pay a fine of between $250 and $1,000. However, an offender convicted of using heroin for the first or second time can usually avoid jail time by entering into a drug treatment program. The penalties for possessing Schedule I controlled substances like heroin in Colorado were softened in 2019 when Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1263 into law. Heroin possession is now a Level 1 drug misdemeanor in Colorado punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A fourth or subsequent heroin possession offense will lead to a Level 4 drug felony charge that carries a custodial sentence of between six months and one year and a fine of between $1,000 and $500,000.
The penalties for distributing heroin in Colorado
The penalties for distributing heroin in Colorado are severe. Distributing less than 14 grams of the drug is charged as a Level 3 drug felony and carries a prison sentence of between two and four years and a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000. Offenders who distribute between 14 and 225 grams of heroin face Level 2 drug felony charges in Colorado and can be sent to prison for up to eight years and ordered to pay a fine of up to $750,000. The harshest penalties are reserved for individuals who distribute more than 112 grams of heroin or sell any amount of the drug to minors. These offenders spend between eight and 32 years behind bars and pay fines of between $5,000 and $1 million. These charges and penalties are often reduced under the terms of plea bargain agreements.
The penalties for possessing, using or distributing illegal drugs can be severe in Colorado, but most offenders enter into plea agreements in return for more lenient treatment. Prosecutors have heavy caseloads and do not like to take risks, so they often agree to reduce drug charges and penalties substantially in return for guilty pleas.