DENVER — The Colorado legislature's struggle on how to deal with fentanyl possession took another turn Thursday, when the state Senate decided that prosecutors shouldn't have to prove that users knowingly possessed the drug in order to charge them with a felony.
The revision is the most significant and far-reaching change to come out of the Senate's work on the legislature's sweeping response to overdoses, which surged nationwide over the past several years, as fentanyl, which is stronger than heroin and lethal in small doses, became an increasingly dominant presence in the illicit drug market. In Colorado, more than 800 people died after ingesting fentanyl in 2021, according to state data.
Senators rejected the push to make it a felony to possess any amount of the drug, a law enforcement priority. Instead, they kept the felony threshold in the bill at 1 gram, up from 4 grams in current statutes. They also shot down efforts to tighten penalties for repeat offenders and to set sentencing requirements for dealers whose wares lead to someone's death.
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