Stricter penalties in the works for possession of fentanyl in Colorado as House passed bill Wednesday night

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 3:37 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Stricter penalties are in the works for possession of fentanyl in Colorado.

The Colorado House passed HB22-1326, comprehensive legislation to combat the fentanyl crisis, which will now go Governor Polis’ desk to be signed. The vote was 35-30.

According to lawmakers, the bill focuses on compound fentanyl, which is fentanyl mixed with other drugs or substances and which is by far the prominent form of fentanyl found in CO.

According to a press release from Colorado House Democrats, individuals who are dealing fentanyl will face increased felony charges, and if the defendant has distributed any amount of fentanyl and it leads to someone’s death, they can be charged with a level one drug felony and face the drug code’s strongest penalties.

Defendants in possession of any amount of fentanyl compound will be assessed for a substance use disorder and required to complete an education program developed by the Office of Behavioral Health in CDPHE. Individuals assessed as having a substance use disorder will have to complete mandatory treatment.

HB22-1326 would also make it a felony to possess more than one gram of fentanyl compound/mixture while creating legal guardrails for individuals who genuinely didn’t know they were in possession of fentanyl.  The new language says that if a defendant can successfully argue that they made “a reasonable mistake of fact,” then they will be sentenced with the lesser charge - a level one drug misdemeanor.

The Governor’s office said in a statement late Wednesday night: “...the legislature has now acted in a bipartisan, and comprehensive manner to reduce fentanyl deaths and get dealers off the streets and fentanyl our of our communities. The Governor appreciates the ongoing work to fight fentanyl and addiction, deeply appreciates the work of Speaker Garnett to bring prosecutors, police, drug treatment experts, and advocates together.”

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