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Gov. Jared Polis signs fentanyl bill into law

Possession of more than a gram of a substance containing fentanyl is now a felony in Colorado.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping measure to address the state's runaway fentanyl crisis.

Parts of the bill immediately became law upon the governor's signature; other parts take effect as late as Jan. 1, 2023.

Among the most controversial measures of the recently concluded session, House Bill 22-1326 seeks to address the fentanyl crisis through several means: heightened felony charges for possession of 1 to 4 grams of any substance containing fentanyl; harm reduction programs to help people stay alive and treat their addictions, including mandating medication-assisted treatment in jails; an education program; widespread availability of opioid antagonists, such as Naloxone, and testing strips that drug users could use to see if the street drugs they're taking contain fentanyl; criminal investigations into fentanyl overdoses that resulted in death; and monitoring of overdoses and of the bill's own impacts.

The bill comes with a price tag of $38.9 million in its first year, funded in part with American Rescue Plan Act money and the state's general fund dollars. Much of that money - $19.7 million - will go toward the bulk purchase of Naloxone. Another $10 million has been set aside to pay for more crisis management and withdrawal beds. 

Sponsors of HB 1326 include House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Sens. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and John Cooke, R-Greeley. But Rep. Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, who brought the initial idea to Garnett's attention last year, pulled his name off the bill on May 11, primarily over the bill's failure to make any possession of fentanyl a felony and language around whether someone knew or should have known the drug they held had fentanyl in it. 

>Read the full article at Colorado Politics.

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