What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.
House District 22
Have you or someone you loved ever experienced a mental health and/or substance use condition?
Question #1: Colorado, like the rest of the nation, is facing a youth mental health crisis. Do you support school policies and funding that increase the availability of mental health services and supports in schools and early childhood settings?
Would you like to explain your response to question #1?
State funding also comes with the strings of “absolute control,” which too often neglects parental responsibilities. State funding is secured by political interests, not necessarily the best interests of a patient. Additionally, these resources have too often been utilized irresponsibly and lead to ideological activism being imposed from a position of authority. The cost of mental health care could be treated as a tax credit, with self-pay allowed at medicare rates to make such care affordable, flexible and accountable.
Question #2: Do you believe mental health and substance use are serious issues your constituents are experiencing that deserve legislative attention and action? Please explain.
Yes, they are serious issues, but are not appropriate to be addressed legislatively. Constitutionally, any program to which the Colorado legislature gives money must be under the absolute control of the State of Colorado, which is inappropriate for any health matter of any constituent. A government program locks in an inflexible, and inefficient, but highly durable course of action determined by politically driven interests, not the interests of the patient. The cost of mental health care could be treated as a tax credit, with self-pay allowed at medicare rates to make such care affordable, flexible and accountable.
Question #3: Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, allow law enforcement to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at significant risk to themselves or others. Colorado has a red flag law. Do you support extreme risk protection orders?
Would you like to explain your response to question #3?
“Red Flag Laws” are another example of “reasonable” gun control methods that were ostensibly for community protection, but were quickly weaponized against citizens, usurping multiple amendments in our Bill of Rights, specifically that of Due Process. If someone is deemed a threat, then probable cause should be established, a warrant issued and a hearing conducted per law with adequate representation. Midnight raids prompted by a disgruntled neighbor are both unconstitutional and unsafe for all. Plus, “temporarily” in this case typically means “permanently unless willing to endure extensive and costly legal wrangling’s.”
Question #4: Overdose deaths are at an all-time high nationally and in Colorado. Many believe increasing criminal penalties for people who use drugs is the answer. Do you support increased criminal penalties for people who use drugs? *
(*Please note that we are asking about personal use, not distribution)
Would you like to explain your response to question #4?
Ultimately the entire drug trade is propelled by small-time users. Elimination of demand is the only way to do away with the profitability of supply. That doesn’t necessarily mean sending someone to jail to get their graduate degree in crime. Perhaps fines or community service would be more applicable, but must be significant enough for deterrence, supply chain identification and encouragement for treatment. Illegal drug use might be the result of an inability to access proper care which could be ameliorated by treating the cost of mental health care as a tax credit, with self-pay allowed at medicare rates to make such care affordable, flexible and accountable.
Question # 5: As a follow up question, did you support legislation in the 2022 session that drastically increased the criminal penalty for possession of any substance over 1g if that substance contains any amount of fentanyl?
Would you like to explain your response to question #5?
The lethal dose of Fentynal is about 0.002g. Thus making 1g the equivalent of 500 lethal doses, which would make the holder individually capable of a mass casualty event. With trace amounts being lethal, in a trade not renowned for quality control, it is appropriate to treat any amount of fentanyl as a lethal dose. Differentiation at the milligram level creates a costly burden of analysis and legal wrangling. It is unlikely that prison is the best option for personal use, but the penalty needs to be significant enough to disincentivize use, and/or motivate identification of those in the supply chain.
Question #6: Do you believe the State should invest more funding for mental health and substance use? If yes, please explain where you would want additional funding to be directed. If no, please explain why.
No. Mental Health is not something that should fall into the purview of government control as stipulated by the Colorado Constitution for any government funded program. The cost of mental health care could be treated as a tax credit, with self-pay allowed at medicare rates to make such care affordable, flexible and accountable.
Question #7: People needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use often experience discrimination as a result of their health condition. Would you support legislation that would protect people needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use conditions from discriminatory practices?
Would you like to explain your response to question #7?
But “yes” from “unnecessary,” or “unreasonable” discriminatory practices. Some conditions make living around other people untenable, such as forcing a landlord to rent to someone unable to control destructive impulses, or forcing a jewelry store to hire a kleptomaniac. Substance use has a high rate of recidivism which would create an unsafe environment for neighborhoods. Plus, in the case of a landlord, acceptance of such an individual is accompanied by an unknown legal liability. If committal of a crime is attributed to mental illness then crime itself becomes a protected activity. Living in society comes with social obligations to not infringe on the Rights of others which the government is obligated to protect. If someone is not able to adhere to such a social contract, then humane alternate arrangements must be secured until they are.
Question #8: For too long the state’s criminal justice system has acted as a substitute for a comprehensive mental health care system. Would you support policies that would disentangle mental health from the criminal justice system and promote the expansion of programs like Denver’s STAR program?
Would you like to explain your response to question #8?
No. While the goal of securing the Rights of citizens should still be premised on maximum protection of the Rights of all involved, creating another bureaucracy in conflict with that of Law Enforcement is not a good idea. The appropriate response is on a continuum, not an “either or.” Returning the police to the idea of “peace keeping” over “enforcement,” can easily include mental health professionals as a team effort instead of a coordination of conflicting agencies, especially if studies show that such teams result in cost efficiencies, and overall reduction of conflict. But while STAR is receiving accolades, Denver is devolving into a maelstrom of mental illness and substance abuse, so there seems to be a disconnect.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am committed to improving mental health treatment for all of those Coloradans who too often can’t access the care they need. I have benefited from working with Mental Health Colorado and hope to continue that work.