NewsCapitol Watch


Bill to increase penalties for those who sell drugs resulting in death appears stalled

Colorado Capitol Dome Spring.jpg
Posted at 6:23 PM, May 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-01 23:52:37-04

DENVER — Colorado lawmakers have one week left in the current legislative session and hundreds of bills to get through.

Last year lawmakers passed a sweeping bill to add harsher penalties on fentanyl distribution. Part of that legislation created a new class one drug felony charge for drug distribution resulting in death.

A bill this session would extend the charge to cases involving other drugs, not just fentanyl. The bill's progress in the legislature appears to be stalled with limited time left to get bills through. The bill is bipartisan with Democratic and Republican prime sponsors.

Class one drug felonies can mean a prison sentence of eight to 32 years and fines ranging from $5,000 to $1 million. The maximum sentencing wouldn't apply unless the case involves the following.

  • 225 grams of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance
  • 112 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones
  • 50 milligrams of flunitrazepam;
  • 50 grams of fentanyl, cargentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof.

The bill passed the Senate in March and has not had a committee hearing in the House as of Monday.
Opponents of the bill argue substance abuse is something that should be handled by public health, not the criminal justice system.

In the Senate committee hearing in March, testimony shared from those opposed to the bill, including those who had lost loved ones to substance abuse said the conversation needs to be centered around getting people help with substance use, including those selling drugs.


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