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Push To Protect Colorado Children From Drug Environments

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A baby is removed from a home contaminated by a meth lab in 2002 (credit: North Metro Drug Task Force)

A baby is removed from a home contaminated by a meth lab in 2002 (credit: North Metro Drug Task Force)

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DENVER (CBS4)- There is a push to protect children in Colorado from dangerous drug environments and the urgency is great considering legalized marijuana with the passing of Amendment 64.

Not everyone agrees with how to proceed. There is criticism about the language of a draft of a bill that hasn’t even been introduced yet.

Some people want specific language that defines what a drug endangered child is. Others believe it could be a backdoor for police officers to get involved in people’s lives who are legally consuming pot.

It was 11 years ago on Thursday that a meth raid on a home in Thornton revealed something officers were not prepared for — to find an infant inside living among dangerous chemicals used to make methamphetamine.

“We encountered an infant,” said Thornton Police Sgt. Jim Gerhardt. “It’s one of those moments that once it occurred I was never the same.”

Gerhardt was shooting the video of the raid on the home. It was a time when meth labs were spiking in Colorado and video documentation was important in pursuing charges.

Since then the North Metro Drug Task Force has seen many more incidents involving children.

There are also other unforeseen dangers associated with drug use.

Police said a home fire where a woman and her child barely escaped through the bedroom window, was caused by the woman’s husband who cleaned the fire place and placed hot embers inside a cardboard box. The man was high on drugs at the time. Police also found drugs and paraphernalia inside the home during a search.

“The language that was passed into law after that raid only addressed drug labs, it didn’t address the mom or dad who takes their kids to a drug deal,” said Gerhardt.

Supporters of a measure to protect children said the bill would need to address drug use on all levels.

Undercover video from the state’s largest cocaine bust taken last year shows a BMW with a man and three children inside. The man was a former El Paso County prosecutor. He was accused of buying cocaine with three children inside the car.

State Senators Andy Kerr and Linda Newell are sponsoring the bill and hoping for change.

“We do have language on the books right now. It’s a matter of clarifying it and then with Amendment 64 being passed that has created more confusion on how to treat these situations,” said Kerr, a Democrat representing Littleton.

Opponents don’t like how the current bill is being drafted.

“If you make it too prescriptive then you are required by law to make it do X,Y and Z rather than assessing the situation and deciding if this is in the best interest of the child,” said Newell, a Democrat representing Englewood.

“Now we are in a crisis phase because we have marijuana legalized and prescription drug abuse at highest rate in nation. We have to do something,” said Gerhardt.

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