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Bill confronting Colorado's growing fentanyl crisis now officially in front of lawmakers

House Bill 1326 ramps up criminal penalties for distribution of fentanyl, including a felony 1 drug charge for distribution that results in death.

DENVER — The long-anticipated bill that intends to confront Colorado's growing fentanyl problem is now public.

As first reported by Colorado Politics, House Bill 1326 ramps up criminal penalties for distribution of fentanyl, including a felony 1 drug charge for distribution that results in death.

District attorneys have requested the provision, arguing current state law allows only for an involuntary manslaughter charge in those circumstances.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate, but 80 to 100 times more powerful than similar drugs, including morphine and codeine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. It's now commonly mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines or even street marijuana, in part because it's cheaper to produce and far more potent.

The fentanyl legislation comes amid heightened attention to the drug's increasingly deadly impact in Colorado. Fatal overdoses involving the drug have skyrocketed since 2015, the product of shifting economics and priorities within the illicit drug trade and accelerated by the pandemic. More than 800 Coloradans died after ingesting fentanyl in 2021, according to state data. That represents a roughly 50% increase from 2020 and more than triple the number of deaths from 2019.

Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, D-Denver and Rep. Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, officially introduced House Bill 1326 on Friday. In the Senate, Sens. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood and John Cooke, R-Greeley, will carry the bill.

> Read the full story at coloradopolitics.com.

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