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Drug-endangered child bills won't automatically criminalize pot-using parents, senator says

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Photos and more below.
In last week's marijuana legislative roundup, our William Breathes referenced two bills about drug endangered children that he said "could arguably make all cannabis-using parents criminals."

He's not alone in this belief. But Senator Linda Newell, a Littleton Democrat, insists that nothing could be further from the truth. And on the eve of the legislation reaching the Senate Judiciary committee, she wants to set the record straight.

"This certainly is not targeting marijuana in any way," says Newell, who's co-sponsoring the bills with Senator Andy Kerr. "I believe in the Constitution, and [marijuana use by adults 21 and over] is a constitutional right -- and everybody continues to have that right. But if there are kiddos out there who need our help, we need to make sure they don't fall through the cracks. We need something consistent and we don't have that right now."

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State Senator Linda Newell.
The numerically consecutive nature of the bills, known as SB 14-177 and SB 14-178, is appropriate, given that they're a matched set. The former sets out to define the term "drug-endangered child" in the children's code governing actions by state social services, while the latter does likewise in the criminal code that sets parameters for law enforcement.

We've included the complete documents below, but the main definition is as follows:

"DRUG-ENDANGERED CHILD" MEANS ANY CHILD IN A CASE IN WHICH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS OCCUR:

(a) IN THE PRESENCE OF A CHILD, OR ON THE PREMISES WHERE A CHILD IS FOUND OR RESIDES, A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...IS MANUFACTURED, DISTRIBUTED, CULTIVATED, PRODUCED, POSSESSED, OR USED, OR ATTEMPTED TO BE MANUFACTURED, DISTRIBUTED, CULTIVATED, PRODUCED, POSSESSED, OR USED, AND WHEN SUCH ACTIVITY THREATENS THE HEALTH OR WELFARE OF THE CHILD; OR

(b) A CHILD'S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING... A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT; OR

(c) A CHILD'S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY THE IMPAIRMENT OF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF THE CHILD...IF THE IMPAIRMENT IS DUE TO THE USE OF EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT; OR

(d) A CHILD TESTS POSITIVE AT BIRTH FOR EITHER A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...OR A SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...UNLESS THE CHILD TESTS POSITIVE FOR A SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AS A RESULT OF THE MOTHER'S LAWFUL INTAKE OF SUCH SUBSTANCE AS PRESCRIBED.

Are the phrases pertaining to threats against a child's welfare so sweeping that they would make it impossible for any parent to engage in legal cannabis use, home grows or the like without violating one or more of them? That's the conclusion of many in the marijuana community. Note a Denver Post opinion piece by Laura Pegram, a policy associate with the Colorado branch of the Drug Policy Alliance, and an open letter to Judiciary committee members from a group of Boulder area marijuana businesses.

The letter, which we've also shared here, states that "Our opposition to this legislation is not based in the inclusion of marijuana or because alcohol is not included. Our opposition to this bill is simple, it creates criminals out of parents."

Cannabis advocate Robert Chase is even more blunt. He has collectively dubbed the bills as the "Parents Who Use Cannabis Are Child Abusers Act of 2014."

Why such vehement opposition? Newell isn't sure.

Continue to read more of our interview with drug-endangered-child bills sponsor Senator Linda Newell, including more photos and four documents.



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60 comments
rosevango
rosevango

State and federal laws don't apply to Larimer County Human Services - just ask them. 


RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

If I compare our opponents to Joseph Goebbels, I will get short shrift, but the effect of a falsehood repeated about fifty times would seem to be profound, based on what I saw today.  Democratic Senators Newell and Kerr lined up bureaucrats and police in favor for many hours, then when the public finally was allowed to speak, interrupted to push, push, push, the notion that the bills are good and do not do what is explicitly stated within them.  The bottom line is that lines 5-13 on page 1 of SB14-178 unequivocally criminalize "creating a situation" in which a child and the manufacture of any controlled substance are both on the same premises.  It is not that difficult to parse those few lines, but the confusion created by the lulling repetition of proponents' characterizations of what the bills say was just amazing when I made a point of reading them aloud -- the first time, I think, that anyone had bothered to refer to the actual text of the worst provision in either bill.  In questioning (more like disputing) me, Sen Johnston stated that SB14-178 referenced the definition of "drug-endangered child" given in SB14-177, but that happens to be completely false.  Kerr then said that we were referring back and forth between the texts of existing statute, SB14-177, and SB14-178 -- I contradicted him; insisting that I was referring only to the the first provision of SB14-178 and nothing else:  "18-6-401.  Child abuse. (1) (c)  A PERSON COMMITS CHILD ABUSE IF HE OR SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING A SITUATION IN WHICH A CHILD IS DRUG-ENDANGERED. AS DESCRIBED IN THIS PARAGRAPH (c), A CHILD IS DRUG-ENDANGERED IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY: (I)  A person commits child abuse if, In the presence of a child, or on the premises where a child is found, or where a child resides, or in a vehicle containing a child, the person knowingly engages in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance ..." -- at this point, I had read those lines aloud twice.  I then pointed out that the sponsors either did not understand the first provision in their own bill, or were lying, at which point Guzman dismissed me.  As to whether the Committee members understand that particular point now, at last, I can only hope.


As it happens, the bills themselves are not just defective, the process by which the recommendations embodied in them were made was illegal.  The Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force conducted its business in secret, in blatant violation of C.R.S. 24-6-402.  I assert this on the basis of past experience and my call to the Department of Law (i.e. Suthers) this morning.  There is no trace of the existence of the Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force at the Department of Law website, and when I inquired about its schedule (past and present), minutes, and meetings, I was referred to the Department's Communications Director, who has not called back.  Since there is no criminal penalty for deliberately holding illegal meetings of public bodies and no legal sanction against what they do, the Attorney General and the Denver City Attorney are apparently telling State government and Denver's Administration, respectively, that they can violate the Law with impunity -- these are at least major ethical violations, and both are in violation of their oaths of office.  All the important people whose jobs are to protect the public interest were at those meetings, just not the public.  They and the best lawyers working for the State labored mightily, and the result is the shameful incompetence on which Democrats Newell and Kerr wasted my and many sick people's entire afternoon and early evening.  These people are too stupid to govern.

JimTom
JimTom

Yet another DIRECT result of the passing of A64. Yeah! Let's all cheer what A64 has brought us!

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

We should have paid attention to SB13-244, which established the Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force -- that body has apparently been meeting illegally in secret to draft the recommendations upon which SB14-277 and SB14-278 were based. The DP opines this morning that "Few would argue against legislation that provides further protections for children from drug-addled parents ...".  The counterrevolution against the decision of the People to declare cannabis a medicine and to allow adults some limited right to its personal use continues to advance, and only a tiny minority of Coloradans are even aware that it is taking place.  We the People knocked a few bricks out of the wall of Prohibition in Colorado, but the prohibitionists have been diligently at work replacing them.

tutonehcc
tutonehcc

What a cunt, hopefully she just dies along with her Bill.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Newell, like the A64 idiots, is an idiot.


The proposed bill CLEARLY and UNEQUIVOCALLY criminalizes parents who


... MANUFACTURE, DISTRIBUTE, CULTIVATE, PRODUCE, POSSESS, OR USE ... MARIJUANA  ...


essieclovington
essieclovington

  Wonder why people treat each other so badly, and display such borderline sociopathic traits?  One has to look no further than those legislators screaming "it's for the children!"  40 years of this "it's for the children' crap and now we've got a bunch of adults who act like irresponsible whiners and want even more freedoms taken away.  They are displaying a nasty mindset that thinks little of their peers (called human beings) and thinks even smaller of children (oh my gosh they must be kept in bubble wrap).  This is what living in fear gets you.  This is what the FREAK OUT people do when you elect them.  It's time to quit electing would-be-Heroes and start electing public SERVANTS.  Enough with the "Who's your Nanny?" 

Randy E. Skunk
Randy E. Skunk

The senators verbal words are completely different than the words used in the bill. Cops only listen to what is on paper so she is wrong in what she says. The words need to be changed on paper to reflect cannabis not being a danger to children.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Michael, you said that you were going to speak with Linda Newell, but not that you were going to regurgitate her talking points in so uncritical a fashion.  I sent you a copy of the Action Alert I prepared for Timothy Tipton, and it directly quotes the most offensive section of SB14-178 (its beginning):

"18-6-401.  Child abuse. (1) (c)  A PERSON COMMITS CHILD ABUSE IF HE OR SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING A SITUATION IN WHICH A CHILD IS DRUG-ENDANGERED. AS DESCRIBED IN THIS PARAGRAPH (c), A CHILD IS DRUG-ENDANGERED IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY: (I)  A person commits child abuse if, In the presence of a child, or on the premises where a child is found, or where a child resides, or in a vehicle containing a child, the person knowingly engages in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance ..."

Please note (now) that this provision has no qualifying statement about said manufacture actually threatening the health or welfare of any child.  You allowed Newell to completely mislead you as to the bills' provisions and effect, as is apparent in "Are the phrases pertaining to threats against a child's welfare so sweeping that they would make it impossible for any parent to engage in legal cannabis use, home grows or the like without violating one or more of them?".  Your question is off the mark, because SB14-178 declares children to be "drug-endangered" when a "person knowingly engages in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance" irrespective of whether it causes any threat to their health or welfare!  Merely cultivating a single cannabis plant on the premises where there is a child, turning a grinder and producing kif, or bringing a child to a house where any such activity occurs may be deemed "creating a situation in which a child is drug-endangered" under SB14-178.

Under SB14-177, medical cannabis patients who give birth would be subject to prosecution for child abuse.

You claim that Newell isn't sure why her bills have inspired vehement opposition; based on her discussion of her friend's cannabis:  "It's in her basement and never around the child ...", it's fairly clear that Newell either does not understand her own bill, or is lying through her teeth.  Her belief that children are at risk when they are in the presence of cannabis is unfounded, and her claim that SB14-178 does not place parents and other adults in legal jeopardy if the kid is upstairs and the cannabis is in the basement is contradicted by the first provision of the bill!  Newell's statement that this isn't directed at cannabis is disingenuous; the references to cultivation clearly reflect the Establishment's botanophobia of cannabis -- any number of houseplants, not controlled substances, actually do pose a risk of poisoning children, but some indefinable quality of cannabis makes it seem far more threatening to Newell and her ilk than plants that can kill.  The Establishment certainly believes (again, without basis in fact) that smoking cannabis in the presence of a child imperils them; the bills dance around that subject entirely, but they do encourage the harassment and prosecution of parents and other adults for activities that threaten no one.

Clayton Capra
Clayton Capra

She doesn't even understand the bill she HAD written for her.

SickFreaks
SickFreaks

These 'sicko' types like this loser Newell always turn out to be mentally ill freaks. A million bucks says either she was sexually abused as a child or she is married to  pedophile.....

Rebecca Repp
Rebecca Repp

How about second hand smoke from cigarettes? That has been proven to be dangerous and cause health problems but they are not criminalizing that!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  




"There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64"

 --- Robert Chase


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@JimTom  


"I do not believe that there will be any fallout for medical cannabis" 

--- Robert Chase

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@JimTom That is absolute nonsense; it is insane to blame anything in Article XVIII, Section 16 for the grossly anti-representative prohibitionists packing the State government and bureaucracy. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase   ... YOU should have paid attention to EVERYONE who warned you what a worthless piece of shit that A64 was, and that it would bring MASSIVE BLOWBACK upon private individual marijuana users, patients and growers in Colorado.


YOU -- Robert "know-nothing dilettante" Chase -- are 100% responsible for this crap, you clueless political ignoramus.



michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@essieclovington  Very interesting post, essieclovington. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Randy. Much appreciated.

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

and the courts only recognize what the law says on paper....
and it's not just cannabis in this bill that will criminalize parents--it's ANY LEGAL substance....

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  "it's fairly clear that Newell either does not understand her own bill, or is lying through her teeth."


I vote for BOTH!


.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  ... you expected any semblance of professional journalism from Fluffmaster Roberts? ... or Wasteword?


At this juncture in space-time, the Denver Post actually produces better investigative journalism.



KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

@RobertChaseNice job, Robert. 

And this isn't just about pot. "OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT; ".

Sugar qualifies, and caffeine and cigs so it looks to me like it's not just pot parents need to worry about.  Worry about the state criminalizing all parents as no parent can lock their kids away from sugar and caffeine, hell even chamomile tea qualifies.....most everything in a persons pantry qualifies.  And do guns qualify ("ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING...") when the definition of substance is: that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material.

OR  (b) A  CHILD ' S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY  UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ,  AS DEFINED 7 IN SECTION 18-18-102 (5), C.R.S.,  OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT;

OR  (c) A  CHILD ' S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY THE IMPAIRMENT OF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF THE CHILD ,  AS DEFINED IN SECTION 19-1-103 (94),  IF THE IMPAIRMENT IS DUE TO THE USE OF EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE,  AS DEFINED IN SECTION 18-18-10213(5), C.R.S., OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT;

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"the bill she HAD written for her"


Good one!


KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

oh it includes "OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT; "....so don't you worry, the state is on it like flies to sh$t.   Sugar qualifies, and caffeine and cigs so it looks to me like it's not just pot parents need to worry about.  Worry about the state criminalizing all parents as no parent can lock their kids away from sugar and caffeine, hell even chamomile tea qualifies.....most everything in a persons pantry qualifies.  And do guns qualify ("ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING...") when the definition of substance is: that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material.

SECTION 18-18-102 (5), C.R.S., IS MANUFACTURED, DISTRIBUTE , CULTIVATED, PRODUCED, POSSESSED, OR USED, OR ATTEMPTED TO BE  MANUFACTURED , DISTRIBUTED, CULTIVATED, PRODUCED, POSSESSED , OR USED , AND WHEN SUCH ACTIVITY THREATENS THE HEALTH OR WELFARE OF  THE CHILD ;

OR  5(b) A  CHILD ' S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY  UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ,  AS DEFINED 7 IN SECTION 18-18-102 (5), C.R.S.,  OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT;

OR  (c) A  CHILD ' S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY THE IMPAIRMENT OF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF THE CHILD ,  AS DEFINED IN SECTION 19-1-103 (94),  IF THE IMPAIRMENT IS DUE TO THE USE OF EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE,  AS DEFINED IN SECTION 18-18-10213(5), C.R.S., OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT;

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

That's just as bogus--based on a study done by the American Cancer Society that assumed everyone who died of lung cancer who was not a smoker died of second-hand smoke (of course, there are many more prevalent carcinogens which non-smokers breathe in.)

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64; there has been plenty of fallout from not doing anything to oust the prohibitionists from State and local governments and bureaucracies.  Imagine confusing the express will of the electorate enshrined in our Constitution with the counterrevolution mounted against it by prohibitionists!

JimTom
JimTom

@RobertChase @JimTombla bla bla, this bill wouldn't even exist without A64. Keep preaching the bullshit and protecting the cartel.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  No, I'm glad we passed Amendment 64.  Even in Colorado, where it is relatively easy to amend the Constitution, this process cannot substitute for political involvement and electoral success.  Our failures have far more to do with our collective failure to organize around the issue of ending Prohibition than they do any problem in Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Constitution.  We can re-amend the Constitution, if most voters agree and we organize and contribute to the substantial cost.  We can work to elect pro-cannabis candidates and to rid the General Assembly of all the fake ones (i.e. your Party, the Democrats).  If we were to successfully organize the 20% of the populace who uses cannabis into a political block, they would not dominate, but we would get a whole lot more respect than we do now, and we could end Prohibition in Colorado.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  No and Yes:  I would not pretend to distinguish between these dregs of journalism.  Several years ago, Westword seemed to take an interest in twitting the Post and in outdoing their coverage of cannabis (no great feat, that), but now when I call, Michael makes it quite clear that he does not have the time to listen carefully.  I made a manful effort to get him to examine the text of the bill himself, but he apparently thought that Newell could be trusted to recount the particulars of the bill.  Journalism does not consist in juxtaposing opposite views, but in the exercise of independent, objective investigation, but there would seem to be precious little in all of Colorado.

On the other hand, unless we form and hold fast to expectations of better, how could we ever hope for journalism to exist here?

 

Colorado -- Land of Low Expectations Fulfilled!


RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@KathleenChippi  You are quite right to point out the glaring deficiencies of the bills; between their defects and deficiencies, it is clear that Newell's initiative is a shameful travesty that should be withdrawn or be stopped by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  On another blogpost about these bills (http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/07/colorado-bill-would-expose-pot-users-to-child-abuse-charges/#comment-1322903742), one commenter makes a telling remark about him supposing this to be a Fascist (Republican) initiative -- no; readers should note that all three of the sponsors of both bills are Collaborationists (Democrats).  I favor renaming the Democratic Party the "Collaborationist Party", but "Reactionary Party" would be almost as good.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  "There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64"


Imagine know-nothing politically clueless dilettantes like you being so egomaniacly conceited they are blind to the harm and destruction they've caused via that wretched turd A64.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase "defendants can argue to a judge or jury that they were not intoxicated despite having that much THC in their blood."


LOL! ... good luck with that.


See you at your sentencing hearing.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@JimTom  Not only was DUID-THC defeated five times, when it finally did pass last year, the 5ng of THC per ml of blood standard was not per se; defendants can argue to a judge or jury that they were not intoxicated despite having that much THC in their blood.  Not only do you not show up, you don't pay enough attention to know what happened a year ago.

JimTom
JimTom

@RobertChase @JimTomWhy would I waste my time testifying in front of people not even listening? Did all your testifying at the 5 nano gram DUI  hearing do anything to change the 5 nano gram limit? No complete wast of time.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@JimTom  Are you coming to testify?  Introduce yourself if you do.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@JimTom  You incomprehension of the difference between correlation and causation is complete.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase




"I do not believe that there will be any fallout for medical cannabis" -- Robert Chase


"There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64" -- Robert Chase

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@JimTom @RobertChase  


"I do not believe that there will be any fallout for medical cannabis" 

--- Robert 'clueless dilettente" Chase pointlessly pontificating about that turd A64

JimTom
JimTom

@RobertChase @JimTomMaybe most of us were smart enough to know what the end results would be. A giant list of new offenses that make smoking pot more criminal than before. 


RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@JimTom  The other reason I failed to mention is the total failure of those who use cannabis in Colorado to organize politically.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@Tabb BS!  The mindless illiterates populating Colorado cannot read to the end of a tweet with comprehension.  The blindlingly obvious reason that we do not make more headway is that the Establishment presents almost a monolithic front against us -- and that it suborned those selling cannabis from storefronts.

Tabb
Tabb

@RobertChase  Nobody has the time to listen you your long-winded, pointlessly-wordy explanations of anything. It's one of the main reasons you are such an ineffective activist.

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