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Colorado House Bill 06-1145




Introduction

The following is an overview of Colorado's new Meth-lab Omnibus Bill which was signed by Governor Bill Owens on June 6, 2006 and became effective on July 1, 2006. A copy of the Bill can be obtained by clicking here).

The Bill begins with the fundamental recognition of the problem and scope of clandestine drug labs (clan-labs) in general and methlabs in particular by making the following legislative declaration:

The general assembly finds that: Methamphetamine labs and use are a plague that infests urban, suburban, and rural communities across Colorado…


The Legislature continues with:

The General Assembly further finds that methamphetamine labs and abuse are a scourge that harms citizens of Colorado.

Essentially, the Bill implements the following:

1) Establishes a State methamphetamine task force;

2) Restricts the retail purchase of methamphetamine precursors;

3) Changes the culpable mental state necessary to form a criminal element of child abuse for the manufacturing of a controlled substance in the presence of a minor;

4) Develops strategies for the treatment of children affected by methamphetamine with regard to their mental, physical and social welfare.

State Methamphetamine Task Force
A task force is established and consists of 28 members selected from various fields and agencies from across the State of Colorado.

The Task Force, which must meet six times each year, will focus on classical Community Policing. Each year, the Task Force must submit a written report of its activities, findings and progress.

The Bill describes in detail the duties and sphere of activity for the Task Force. The Bill also provides information concerning funding and financial obligations of the Task Force.

Restriction of Retail Sales
The Bill alters the language of the Colorado Criminal Code (Title 18, Article 18 Controlled Substances). Colorado now restricts the purchase of a methamphetamine precursor drug or a combination of two or more methamphetamine precursor drugs to no greater than 3.6 grams to any one person during any 24 hour period.

It is now unlawful for a methamphetamine precursor drug offered for retail sale to be displayed in an area of the store to which the public is allowed access. Some retailers now display information cards on their counters; the customer takes the information card to the clerk and exchanges the card for the desired product.

A sales clerk may not provide any methamphetamine precursor drug to any person under eighteen years of age.

Child Abuse
The Bill alters the language of the Colorado Criminal Code (Title 18, Article 6 Offenses Against Family Relations).

In Colorado, a person now commits child abuse if, in the presence of a child, on a premises or in a vehicle, the person knowingly engages in the attempted manufacture of a controlled substance.

In Colorado, a person now commits child abuse if, in the presence of a child, on a premises or in a vehicle, the person knowingly possesses ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine, including their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, with the intent to use the product as an immediate precursor in the manufacture of a controlled substance.

In Colorado, most crimes contain two elements: The psychical element (mens rea, also known as the “culpable mental state”) and the physical element (actus reus, the actual criminal act). That is, for a crime to be committed, there must be an “evil intention” and an “unlawful action.” However, for some crimes, no mens rea is required, and the act alone is sufficient for securing a prosecution; these are referred to as the “strict liability” crimes. The Bill slightly altered the culpable mental state of existing statutes by making the offense a “strict liability” crime vis-à-vis the mere presence of a child; the knowledge of the presence of the child notwithstanding.

In Colorado, a person now commits child abuse if they are the parent or legal guardian of a child and permit that child to be present with another person they know or reasonably should have known that other person was engaged in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of methamphetamine.

Throughout the State of Colorado, highly professional law enforcement agencies are on-board and actively participating in addressing the scourge of meth-labs.



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