Addressing the fentanyl crisis

Colorado’s lawmakers who passed the Fentanyl Accountability and Prevention Act deserve deep appreciation and recognition. Cheap and 80 times more potent than morphine, fentanyl is illegally mixed with pain pills and street drugs. In 2021 fentanyl killed hundreds of Coloradans and is implicated in more than half the 100,000-plus drug overdose deaths nationwide.

Lawmakers who saw this bill through without stonewalling wrestled with complicated issues to try to stop a relentless and invisible killer. This $57 million law lowers the felony fentanyl possession threshold from a ridiculous 4 grams (a lethal dose is 2 milligrams) to 1 to 4 grams of any compound containing fentanyl. A last-minute compromise allows defendants who prove they didn’t know they possessed fentanyl to have sentences reduced. Other provisions include expanded treatment options, statewide harm-reduction programs, and bulk purchases and distribution of naloxone to counter overdoses.

Tragically, many families who have lost a loved one to fentanyl live knowing the person who made and sold the poisoned substance is still on the street — and someone else will likely perish. Critically, the law allocates $7 million for a statewide fentanyl poisoning investigation fund to improve law enforcement’s investigation and prosecution of cases.

The fentanyl crisis is tearing families apart. Young people experimenting with ways to get high don’t end up high — they end up dead. Blessings and thanks to the families of victims and others who labored to see this legislation through and who campaign every day to end this senseless murder.

Chelsea Congdon Brundige