Drug-endangered child bills may have been doomed by "optics," political deals, senator says

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Earlier this month, Senator Linda Newell, sponsor of two controversial bills intended to clarify the definition of a drug-endangered child, refuted claims that the measures could criminalize any parent who legally smoked marijuana. Nonetheless, the measures failed this week after a tricky political maneuver. They actually passed before a reversal in fortune -- and were nearly revived yesterday prior to perishing for good.

Newell believes the bills were mischaracterized by critics and undermined by politics that pitted kids' safety against the interests of the pot industry.

"Sometimes the optics can hijack a bill," Newell says, "and sometimes people who agree with the policy vote with the politics."

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

We've included the complete documents below, but here's the main definition:

"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.

Critics complained that the phrases pertaining to threats against a child's welfare were so sweeping that they would make it impossible for any parent to engage in legal cannabis use, home grows or the like without violating the laws. Newell argued otherwise, pointing out that the language grew out of recommendations from a state substance-abuse task force and maintaining that the new material actually added more protections for parents than the text of current statutes.

Nonetheless. opposition against the measures remained strong -- so Newell tinkered with the bills in ways intended to soothe concerns. Among the amendments she approved was one stating that all remedies must be exhausted before law enforcement could step in -- and the word "only" was added to a phrase involving the "threat of injury, safety and life of the child." On top of that, Newell says marijuana was specifically listed among legal substances, "to make sure people understood that everything was aligned with Amendment 20 and Amendment 64," the main marijuana measures enshrined in the Colorado constitution.

These tweaks gained the measures more support, and Newell says "the senate passed both of them. But then, at the end, the minority leader [Republican Senator Bill Cadman] called for a roll-call vote -- and at the same time, he also gave a signal to his people on his side of the aisle to lock down and vote with him. And that's what happened -- how you can have a bill pass and then have it taken away."

Continue for more of our interview with Senator Linda Newell about the failure of two drug-endangered child bills.


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13 comments
RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Newell's bill was threatened by "optics"; some of us can still read!

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

"... here's the main definition:" -- No.  Michael, you do not correct too well.  Regardless of what SB14-177 says, the first provision of SB14-178 is what defines manufacturing a controlled substance on the same premises there is a child as child abuse:


"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 ..." -- the rest of the bills are crap too, but this particular provision of the bill you failed to quote is the one which is sweeping, because it does not qualify that only manufacture that "THREATENS THE HEALTH OR WELFARE OF THE CHILD" makes it drug-endangered.

Luis Posada
Luis Posada

As a child who grew up in the days of prohibition illegal drugs were always more readily available than legal ones.

Clayton Capra
Clayton Capra

She didn't fully understand her bill that someone else wrote for her and is now bitter it didn't get passed. Go figure.

Craig Struthers
Craig Struthers

I think that some senators care more about kowtowing to Monsanto than they do about Americans safety.

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

I knew that the children would be paraded and/or exploited by opposing forces.  The hypocrisy is amazing to me.  What is the difference between Bubba popping open a Bud instead of lighting one up in the presence of a child? 

Jason
Jason

This woman's a loon and the scary thing is she's not the only one in a position of governance in this state.  This bill was not well thought out at all, she didn't quite understand it herself.  And then to assert that there were buy offs from the "industry" is absurd.  The "industry" doesn't have that type of money thanks to her and her cronies establishing the ridiculous fees and requirements for these establishments to even exist.  How "Green" is it Linda to buy one joint and have to take it out in a large plastic container that would house someones lunch side dish?


How do these people sleep at night with all the bullshit in their mouths?

JAY5155
JAY5155

Hey Newell, how can you 'exclude' marijuana like Roberts says you did, but still have the language of a schedule 1 drug in the legislation.


You do realize that marijuana is a schedule 1 drug, right? 


How about you worry about the important stuff going on in your district, like the water issues facing the southwestern part of your district. Or the growing number of complaints against cops breaking laws and not getting caught. How about you address the issue of red light cameras and the fact that they reduce the time of the yellow light, causing more accidents while doing NOTHING for safety and EVERYTHING to do with raising revenue. How about you get some funds to fix some infrastructure. Fix some potholes. Stop with your own personal moral crusade. 


I'm sorry that you can't let loose the south metro drug task force anymore, I'm sure that was fun while it lasted. What happened to them? Didn't they lose their funding because they were wasting time attempting to bust home-cultivation and not getting convictions? That's rhetorical.


Your reefer madness mentality is ridiculous. Stop pandering to the low-knowledge high income portion of your base and get something done. How about improving the graduation rate or unemployment in your district? Maybe you need a joint to chill out. Don't worry, edibles won't make you jump off of buildings like your friends say.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@DeathBreath  ... typical brain-dead bong-sucking stoner.


When was the last time second-hand Alcohol was inhaled by children bystanders?



DeathBreath
DeathBreath

@DonkeyHotay @DeathBreathPlease, "DonkeyHotay", share your incredible mental prowess with the rest of us.  It sounds as though you function well above two standard deviations above the mean IQ.  Are you a member of MENSA as well?  I am all ears.  I promise to take your cognitive blessings to my colleagues to discuss any wisdom you wish to impart with the rest of the simpletons here.  


Perhaps you believe in the power of observational learning as well. Hmmm?  Or, you might believe that cannabis functions as a "necessary" or "sufficient" condition for the ingestion of harder drugs, the "gateway drug concept."  Tip:  There is no compelling evidence to support this junk science.  Please, share any journal abstracts with the rest of us concerning research you may have written or studied. Most of the studies on cannabis were funded by the Federal government.  But, I'm sure they don't have any influence on the findings. 


"Shallow brooks are noisy" my friend. 

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

@DonkeyHotay @DeathBreathYes, stoners are a sorry lot aren't they?  All they do is sit around, smoking weed,& dealing with their amotivational syndrome.  Those lazy bastards.  Carl Sagan was one of these lazy fucks!  All he did was do write books & conduct research.  Seriously, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share your knowledge specific to the effects of secondary cannabis smoke on children and/or adults.  I don't think this has been studied.  Furthermore, I don't believe a functional relationship exists.  I could be wrong. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@DeathBreath spewed this idiocy "What is the difference between Bubba popping open a Bud instead of lighting one up in the presence of a child?  "



When was the last time second-hand and sidestream Alcohol was inhaled by children bystanders?


Be specific, numbnuts, and show your work.





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