That exchange will pit harm-reduction advocates who favor a public-health approach rather than the sort of crackdown associated with the failed War on Drugs era against conservative legislators who want to make possession of the substance a felony.
Plenty of law enforcement agencies also back a full-scale crackdown, with arguably the most aggressive being the 4th Judicial District DA's Office in Colorado Springs, headed by Michael J. Allen. In advance of today's legislative action, Allen and company participated in a Fentanyl Town Hall sponsored by the Colorado Springs Gazette and KKTV, and issued a release filled with photos of "fentanyl laced candy" presumably capable of luring impressionable children to their death.
The images would have been a lot more frightening had any of them originated in Colorado — which they didn't.
In conjunction with the town hall, the 4th Judicial DA's Office shared data related to drug overdoses in general, and fentanyl in particular. The figures showed a 22 percent increase in drug-related deaths from 2020 to 2021 in El Paso County, driven largely by "a more than doubling of fentanyl deaths"; they went from 47 in 2020 to 99 in 2021. In addition, the office noted that "there were two fentanyl-related suicides in 2021, bringing the total lives lost to fentanyl in our community to 101." The victims included five children — a one- year-old, a five-year-old, a fifteen-year-old and two seventeen-year-olds.
Graham Middle School, St. Paris, OH; student unknowingly ate a fentanyl laced gummy bear, rushed to ER, “almost died.”The release highlights the reference above to Jolly Ranchers, since the company was founded in Golden back in 1949. It's the closest thing to a local hook regarding the fentanyl candies. Still, the message from the 18th Judicial District DA's Office is clear: If Colorado goes soft on fentanyl now, the state's kids are doomed.
2020: Box of candy found in a Millersville, TN, neighborhood with fentanyl pills shaped like Hello Kitty candies.
2022: Candy-shaped fentanyl circulating in southern (Portland) Maine; green and purple pills shaped like candy or vitamin-like alien heads and hand grenades.
2022: Edwards Middle School in Conyers, GA: A middle school student has been suspended after bringing drug-laced candy to school. A teacher at Edwards Middle School in Rockdale County stated the candy was laced with fentanyl. A photo shows the packaging of the candy, which calls them “medicated Skittles.”
2022: Police find nearly 40 bags of fentanyl after seventh-grader overdoses at Hartford, CT school; 24 hours later, officials in New Haven, CT said five students at Bishop Woods School, a K-8 magnet school, fell ill and were hospitalized after they ate candy brought in by another student.
In Orlando Area, Fentanyl Candy Is Not a Sweet Treat; FL man found in possession of a bag of colored candy-looking pills. Police sent the pills for testing, and the results were anything but sweet. It turns out these colorful looking pills were actually laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
2021, Athens, GA; Drug unit seizes candy laced with fentanyl during search of Athens home. The bag of more than 500 pieces of candy infused with fentanyl was recovered last week at an undisclosed location by the Northeast Georgia Drug Task Force, police Lt. Shaun Barnett said Wednesday. In this case, Barnett said the suspects melted Jolly Ranchers candy and fused it with fentanyl, then shaped it in a mold similar to gummy bears. The candy was then hardened and repackaged in the Jolly Rancher wrappers, he said.
The original version of the fentanyl bill, technically known as HB22-1326, made possession of 4 grams or less a misdemeanor. However, its sponsor, Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, has introduced an amendment lowering the threshold for a felony to 1 gram. Click to read HB22-1326 as introduced and the amendment.