Colorado’s Fentanyl Accountability and Prevention bill signed into law
DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) -- New legislation meant to combat the fentanyl crisis in Colorado was signed into law.
Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis signed HB22-1326, the Fentanyl Accountability and Prevention bill. HB22-1326 institutes substance use prevention and treatment strategies, and people who deal fentanyl will face increased felony charges.
The new bill makes the "unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of a material, compound, mixture, or preparation containing fentanyl, carfentanil, or an analog thereof:"
- A level 1 drug felony if it weighs more than 50 grams
- A level 2 drug felony if it weighs more than 4 grams, but not more than 50 grams
- A level 3 drug felony if it weighs not more than 4 grams
However, if a defendant can prove they didn't know they were dealing fentanyl, they could only face a misdemeanor.
Leading up to being signed, law enforcement and local leaders criticized the bill. After passing the Colorado Senate, Colorado Mayor John Suthers released a statement saying:
“The bill that the Colorado legislature passed is wholly inadequate to address this critical problem that is resulting in the death of far too many Coloradans. In placing upon prosecutors the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the substance they possessed was fentanyl, the legislature, in almost every instance, is protecting the defendant from felony prosecution. The stark reality remains that someone in Colorado can possess enough fentanyl to kill hundreds of people and avoid serious consequences by merely asserting they didn’t know it was fentanyl. The Democrat majorities in the legislature have thus far shown themselves wholly incapable of adequately dealing with this public health crisis. I hope the governor will attempt to rectify the situation and I hope the voters of Colorado recognize this as the failure of leadership that it is.”Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers
Colorado's 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said the bill was "rushed" and "will prove to be inadequate to address the impact fentanyl is having across Colorado, and here in the Pikes Peak Region.
He went on to call on the governor to consider all options before signing, including a veto.
According to 9News, parts of the bill became law immediately, other parts take effect as late as Jan. 1, 2023.