With only hours remaining in the 2022 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill aimed at addressing the rise of the deadly street drug fentanyl.
House Bill 22-1326 establishes new offenses and punishments for crimes involving the possession or distribution of fentanyl, including an offense for distributing the drug when it later leads to a death.
However, critics of the bill maintain it doesn't do nearly enough to deter its use and falls short of establishing meaningful penalties for possessing even small amounts.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen was among those opposed to the bill, telling KRDO in April that it would be a "huge disappointment" to pass a bill that made possessing less than four grams of fentanyl only a misdemeanor.
Shortly after the bill's passage, the Governor's office released a statement saying, "...the legislature has now acted in a bipartisan, and comprehensive manner to reduce fentanyl deaths and get dealers off the streets and fentanyl our of our communities. The Governor appreciates the ongoing work to fight fentanyl and addiction, deeply appreciates the work of Speaker Garnett to bring prosecutors, police, drug treatment experts, and advocates together. While people of good faith can quibble over the exact details of any bill, the Governor sees this bill as a big step in the right direction to make Colorado safer for all.”
The number of deaths from fentanyl has surged in recent years, with fatal cases doubling in El Paso County from 2020 to 2021, and the passage of a bill was a top priority of lawmakers.
Had it not passed by the deadline, a special session would have been required to address it.