Real “harm reduction” for fentanyl would be treating it like a deadly poison

One other 30 or so Coloradans have died from fentanyl overdose since my column two weeks in the past imploring the legislature to shortly go a significant invoice addressing the killer drug. There may be nonetheless no regulation making an attempt to repair the disastrous 2019 invoice making possession of deadly fentanyl a criminal offense akin to theft of cable companies, and the proposed repair making its approach by way of the Normal Meeting dangers making the scenario worse.

The possession of a drug liable for killing Coloradans at an unprecedented and annually-doubling fee will probably be tougher to prosecute than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine if that laws tortoising its approach by way of the gold dome turns into regulation.

The phrase de jour throughout a listening to that lasted till 3 a.m. earlier this month was “hurt discount,” a time period apparently restricted to consideration of the addict alone, not the broader group stricken by a permissive drug use setting. Hurt seems to be outlined as something which may separate the addict from their medication or the medication from the group.

Some harm-reduction specialists testified that the one coverage that can work is to supply the most secure doable setting for addicts to proceed to make use of, together with saving and resaving and resaving their lives till such time as they determine voluntarily to hunt therapy, or till they die. When requested if such a suggestion was tantamount to arguing for the legalization of all medication, the specialists who want to see regulation enforcement officers decreased to mere suppliers of Noxalone, demurred. In fact, that’s the solely logical conclusion to their suggestion.

Hurt discount should additionally embody these communities, like mine, who didn’t volunteer to be part of Denver’s ongoing disaster of public coverage, however whose geographic proximity to the town compels them to undergo proper together with our once-safe capital metropolis.

Earlier than the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis gutted our legal guidelines, it was a felony for any individual to knowingly possess a managed substance that contained fentanyl (or meth, heroin, cocaine, and so on). They didn’t must know particularly that the medication they knew to be unlawful contained any particular compound, simply that they knew it was an unlawful substance.

In 2019, the legislature decreased the regulation governing the possession of medicine — together with sufficient pure fentanyl to kill 2,000 folks — all the best way all the way down to an arrestless, bondless, receive-a-ticket misdemeanor. The identical data commonplace is utilized — the fentanyl possessor want solely know that they’ve an unlawful drug, not that it contained one particular drug or one other.

Final week, because the legislature lastly began to handle the burgeoning Colorado fentanyl disaster they helped facilitate, the Home Judiciary committee (chaired by Rep. Mike Weissman and dominated by Democrats) voted to make it tougher to prosecute those that possess lethal fentanyl than to prosecute those that possess cocaine.

Whereas grieving members of the family of these killed by fentanyl, regulation enforcement leaders from throughout the state, and public opinion cry out for growing the possession of any quantity of the killer drug fentanyl to a felony, the occasion within the grips of the woke social-justice motion who management the legislature disagrees. The legislature’s aim appears to be to look conscious of a lethal scenario, with out really creating better accountability for many who allow it.

The invoice’s present language permits possession of 1 gram of fentanyl — sufficient to kill 500 Coloradans — to stay a stay-on-the-street-and-continue-to-use-and-die misdemeanor. There isn’t any data-driven or commonsense purpose to create a 1 gram restrict, aside from the politics of having the ability to say that they did “one thing.”

It will turn into a felony to own multiple gram, however provided that regulation enforcement can show that the individual “knew or ought to have identified” that the medication they possessed particularly included fentanyl. The unprecedented commonplace — solely relevant to fentanyl — is so extremely and unjustifiably excessive, that the one individuals who could possibly be prosecuted for it will be those that put on a “I’m with fentanyl” t-shirt or who confess to police (not gonna’ occur). The result’s to make it simpler to prosecute somebody with methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine, than it’s to prosecute somebody with what’s presumably the deadliest avenue drug we have now ever seen.

This isn’t a partisan problem. Democrats handed the invoice out of the home judiciary committee regardless of bipartisan opposition. Greater than that, Polis — Colorado’s prime Democrat and the person who decreased fentanyl to a misdemeanor together with his 2019 pen — has lastly seen the sunshine. Polis publicly said on Tuesday what everybody else already knew: fentanyl is a poison, like anthrax, and “any possession of fentanyl” must be a felony.

Our legislative leaders can now comply with Polis’ lead and admit their errors and transfer ahead with haste in fixing the regulation. There isn’t any extra time to attend. At the very least two extra Coloradans will die from fentanyl at the moment. And tomorrow. And so forth.

George Brauchler is a former district legal professional from the 18th Judicial District in Aurora and is an everyday columnist for The Denver Submit.

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