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In a radical shift from America’s traditional policing protocol, ten communities in Colorado will use $21 million in state funding to keep people out of jail, focusing instead on finding professional help and creating stable lives for residents suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues — and it’s all thanks to legal weed.
According to the Denver Post, the Colorado Department of Human Services announced the new funds allocation Wednesday, presenting a slew of cannabis tax-funded programs that will last from three to five years, and include placing mental health professionals in police patrol cars, hiring recovering drug addicts to counsel users looking to get clean, and even providing free-of-charge housing for sex workers and addicts.
“We’re thrilled,” said Doyle Forrestal, CEO of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, to the Post. “We think it’s the most innovative and effective way we can use to get people into treatment in a direct way.”
Parting from past enforcement programs, the Centennial State’s cannabis-funded anti-imprisonment initiative is designed to respect the process of recovery, giving struggling Coloradans the leeway to relapse without losing state assistance.
“Individuals entering the program may be at different stages of readiness and may progress at their own pace without fear of being terminated from the program or prosecuted,” said state officials when soliciting bids from communities willing to test the new diversion philosophy. “They will not be denied services if they continue substance use or involvement in criminal activity. As a result, housing services do not require participants’ abstinence from substance use to determine housing eligibility or as a condition of remaining housed.”
The ten participating municipalities — Alamosa, Longmont, Denver, Pueblo, Larimer, Evans, Grand Junction, Pitkin, Broomfield and El Paso — will receive upwards of $300,000 each to partner cops with behavioral scientists, launch