Mike Weissman

What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.


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?

Our student-counselor ratios are likely inadequate to very inadequate across the state. Some districts have higher tax bases than others and the former can likely afford to do a better job hiring and retaining counselors to support student mental health.

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 on both counts, and as a 6-year member and 4-year chair of House Judiciary Committee I have seen up close what happens when we fail adequately to address these issues upstream…we end up trying to address them downstream in the criminal legal system, and that is about the worst way to address them for everyone involved.

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?

I voted for and actively supported the ERPO bills in 2018 (the bill was killed by the GOP senate that year) and in 2019 (became law that year). In 2019 I chaired the judiciary committee hearing for ERPO and made a point of scheduling no other bill that day so ERPO had the time and space that discussion needed and deserved.

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?

Some of my closest friends have struggled at different points in their lives with drug and alcohol use/abuse. In every case the cause was trauma – sexual assault, domestic violence, or both. Felony possession typically amounts to treating someone who is already a victim as a perpetrator. That is precisely what happened to people I know and care deeply about. People have a right to concerned about the impact of substances on their families, friends, and broader communities. Putting people struggling with addictions in DOC is not the answer to this.

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?

I ended up voting for HB22-1326, but despite, not because, of the inclusion of felony possession penalties for fentanyl. My reasons for supporting the bill had to do with treatment and harm reduction funding and research, the latter of which I believe will help substantiate the ineffectiveness of felony possession approaches. I voted against the amendment to add felony possession to the bill, and I continue to believe felony possession should never have been part of that legislation.

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.

Yes. School-based clinics could be one approach, at the least for students themselves, but also, ideally for their family members, given that schools are natural community hubs for families of school-aged kids already. I think we have an acute shortage of services particularly in rural and especially lower-income rural areas of the state (e.g. the San Luis Valley).

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?

The details will matter here as everywhere, but stigma against those with mental health conditions is real. I am familiar with the details of the Colorado Anti Discrimination Act and would be happy to engage in discussions on this subject.

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?

Yes. In particular, I have tried – unsuccessfully to date – to amend our assault statutes to remove provisions that *the state’s own data shows* are disproportionately ensnaring people with mental health conditions and contributing to competency to proceed backlogs in the criminal legal system. I would like to see alternate-responder systems expand to more areas of the state.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The state has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the last few legislative sessions into upgrading our behavioral health capacities. That is a promising starting point but by no means the end of the matter. The last couple years – COVID, recession, inflation and economic challenge, political strife – have collectively stressed this entire country and I hope as a result we are all collectively more inclined to engage in creating solutions.