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On behalf of Colorado’s 64 sheriffs, their deputies and the communities they protect, we want to recognize the hard work that is being done by the Colorado General Assembly to address the fentanyl crisis and to provide harm reduction and substance-use prevention within House Bill 22-1326.

However, as the full Senate begins its consideration of this bill, it’s critical that Colorado re-establish firm criminal consequences for dealing and possessing illegal drugs, and specifically fentanyl. Colorado needs to have all possible tools available to all stakeholders in order to stop this crisis.

This problem is not only about the effects to drug users, and neither should our response be. Neighborhoods, communities and families are being destroyed. The crisis is not going away, and every day more people are becoming addicted, or worse, dying. We have the harm reduction pieces in this bill, they are much needed tools to address one side of the equation. But with how deadly fentanyl is, it cannot be just one side or the other, it must be multi-pronged

Now is the time to address the criminal side of this emergency. Have no doubt, the drugs being laced with fentanyl are illicit street drugs, obtained illegally. These are not coming from your family doctor or clinic down the street. These dealers are relentless in their efforts to increase their customer base, through addiction, so they can continue with this illegal and lucrative business.

Crime rates are up. Public health is in crisis. Individuals are being urged to carry Narcan — not just health and law enforcement professionals. This is beyond disturbing. Public health is tied to public safety and relies on law and order as well as outreach and harm reduction programs. We must look at this through a broad lens and attack it from as many fronts as we can.

There are too many heartbreaking stories that have been shared by families whose lives have been torn apart by the deadly force of this drug. There are also stories of the deputy who works tirelessly to revive yet another person from dying of an overdose; the children, who through no choice of their own, ingested illegal fentanyl laced drugs and didn’t live to see another day.

As you our state senators debate this bill, we urge them to carefully consider the importance of this legislation.  Because there is no amount of fentanyl that is safe, it does not belong on our streets–in any amount.  There is no halfway with this dangerous drug. 

That’s why Colorado’s sheriffs continually are asking legislators: Will we take this opportunity to prevent deaths, or will we send the message that we are willing to risk losing a "small" percentage of citizens to this poison?

And if that’s the case, then whose loved one are you willing to sacrifice?

Please amend HB22-1326 to ensure that any amount of fentanyl possession is a felony. That way, law enforcement can work to keep this deadly drug off our streets and have the ability to help those in possession of fentanyl to get the treatment help they need.

Amy J. Nichols

Executive director

County Sheriffs of Colorado


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