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Bill Aims To Protect Children In Dangerous 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)

DENVER (CBS4)- With recreational marijuana use legal in Colorado there is an emphasis on the safety of children who are exposed to dangerous drug environments.

Drug task force agents first encountered an infant in a meth house in Thornton more than a decade ago. That 14-month-old boy is Brandon Campbell. He is 12 years old now.

“Some of these parents they just don’t understand,” said Brandon.

The images of Brandon being passed between police officers wearing oxygen masks and complete drug gear was a wake up call for advocates who wanted to toughen the laws so children would be better protected.

At the state Capitol on Thursday child advocates met to discuss the bill and how it would strengthen laws for children found in drug-endangered environments.

Senate Bill 278 was being discussed in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday afternoon. The committee was expected to decide whether the bill would move forward on Friday.

Brandon and his dad are still hoping for those laws to protect children more than a decade later.

“It just saddens my heart to know that I wasn’t the only child,” said Brandon.

Keith Strickland, Brandon’s father, didn’t know that Brandon’s mother was living in a home used to manufacture drugs when he dropped off his son for visitation with her that day.

She was sentenced to just 25 days in jail for having Brandon in that home.

“I stood up in the middle of the courtroom and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s it?’ The judge said, ‘That’s all the law will allow me,’” said Strickland.

Advocates want to broaden the law to more than just children found inside homes where drugs are manufactured. They also want to define what a drug-endangered child is.

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

Brandon hasn’t seen his mother in seven years.

“She thought if I was with my dad I’d have a better life,” said Brandon.

Advocates are concerned about those parents who don’t put their children first and may choose drugs instead.

Opponents of the bill believe it is a direct assault on both legalized and medical marijuana.

Proponents say it’s common sense.

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