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Posted on March 24, 2022 at 5:51 PM by Karlyn Tilley
This week, draft legislation will be introduced at the state capitol, which makes an effort to address the rising death toll from the drug fentanyl. This synthetic drug is killing members of our community at an alarmingly high rate in Colorado. While I commend the efforts of our lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to work on this, the draft as it currently stands, falls drastically short of what it will take to fully address this epidemic and affect change.
Currently, the legislation proposes to impart harsher penalties on dealers who sell fentanyl, but fails to render any substantial penalties on those who possess it. I believe both possessing and dealing should be felony crimes, because even the smallest amount of fentanyl is dangerous and deadly. The bill would allow people to possess four grams or less without much more than a slap on the wrist. Yet, it only takes two-thousandths of a gram to potentially kill. There must be real and significant consequences for use and possession of this drug. Right now, the hands of law enforcement officers are tied; if we do not have more significant deterrents in place, we fear the death toll will continue to rise. Fentanyl will bypass a judge and jury and take users straight to the grave.
The proposal also gives a free pass to so-called Good Samaritans who report overdoses. We do not want people to fear reporting overdoses. However, this legislation goes too far by giving complete immunity to those who distribute, manufacture, and dispense fentanyl.
The legislation focuses heavily on addressing the fentanyl crisis as a mental health issue, and provides money to support treatment and recovery efforts. This is a critical component of the work it will take to bring drug use and drug deaths down in Colorado. It also proposes a $20 million allocation to our public health agencies to fund distribution of Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug which often saves lives of those overdosing. Our deputies have administered Narcan and witnessed it save a multitude of lives. I applaud these efforts as they are a critical piece to effective legislation.
There must be more. As the law makers and law enforcers of this state, we are obligated to create and enforce laws that ultimately affect our community in a positive way. In regards to fentanyl, the only way to make change is to also address the serious consequences of this drug with serious enforcement. I implore our lawmakers to listen to your law enforcement agencies and work with us to make this a bill that genuinely impacts the drug crisis in our state.
Sheriff Jeff Shrader
Jeff Shrader, Sheriff
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office