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DENVER (KDVR) — A group of law enforcement and business leaders gathered virtually Monday to discuss the impact fentanyl is having on Colorado communities.

According to the Common Sense Institute, in 2021 there were about 800 fentanyl-related deaths in Colorado, and that is a 260% increase from 2019.

Legislation and penalties were a few of the topics discussed by the group.

“We’re almost at three Coloradans a day who die from a fentanyl overdose. Treating this thing like it’s marijuana, or treating it like it’s a speeding ticket, is offensive to the value of human life,” said former District Attorney George Brauchler, who is now a CSI Criminal Justice Fellow.

“Fentanyl kills, period, more than any other drug that we have seen in a long time. If we don’t start treating it like the killer it is, it will continue to kill in greater and greater numbers,” Brauchler said.

He and former Denver DA Mitch Morrissey, who is also a CSI Criminal Justice Fellow, want stricter laws.

“We really need to treat fentanyl differently. Fentanyl is a dangerous and deadly substance, and it needs to be treated as such,” Morrissey said.

But people like Christie Donner, the executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, say tougher penalties will not keep people alive.

“It reminds me of when we had the crack hysteria in the ’80s, where they said, oh, crack was a different kind of drug, and it was so dangerous, and we had to treat it so differently, and we ended up with horrible policy behind that,” Donner said.

House Bill 1326 will be discussed at the Capitol on Tuesday. It aims to increase penalties for fentanyl-related issues, among other things.