Publisher's note: traditionally, this communication would be labeled a Letter to the Editor, but we're using a more catchy title for our new section
As an organization that advocates to make our state healthier and safer for all Coloradans, we strongly oppose Senate Bill 109 and House Bill 1164. These bills would criminalize people who need compassion and care and would create costly cycles of incarceration that tear families and communities apart.
We need to implement evidence-based solutions that prevent overdose deaths and protect our most under-resourced communities. That means better access to prevention, treatment and recovery services, and enacting harm reduction policies that are proven to save lives.
Senate Bill 109 would make it a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 32 years in prison, to sell or share any drug that causes a fatal overdose. While this policy intends to target “kingpin” drug dealers and deter drug sales, evidence from other states with these laws on the books show that they instead target friends and family members of the deceased who are often experiencing substance use themselves.
House Bill 1164 will make the fentanyl law passed last year even more punitive by removing protections for those who unknowingly possess the substance. Many controlled substances are now laced with trace amounts of fentanyl unbeknownst to the user, leaving a huge number of Coloradans vulnerable to unnecessarily harsh criminal penalties.
Join us in opposing these ineffective bills.
– Colorado Mental Wellness Network, Denver