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DENVER (KDVR) — Lawmakers at the state Capitol advanced a bill that would heighten the penalties for people dealing fentanyl. After passing some new amendments, the bill will also increase the penalties for anyone possessing small amounts of fentanyl in Colorado.

Some community members, law enforcement and district attorneys who pushed for stiffer penalties for fentanyl possession were able to get lawmakers to come to a compromise.

“We keep hearing, this amount of pure fentanyl at 4 grams will kill, and then it’s like this number of people. What the reality is and what we are seeing on the ground is you are not finding pure fentanyl, it’s in compound mixtures,” said Democratic bill sponsor and House Speaker Alec Garnett.

Garnett proposed an amendment that would make it a level two felony if someone is caught with any amount of a drug that is tested and is made up of more than 60% fentanyl. He acknowledged the technology for testing fentanyl is not quite ready yet but said this piece would allow the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to do so once it becomes more available.

That amendment passed with some debate, but possession was still the main focal point for lawmakers, some calling for any amount of fentanyl possession to be outlawed in Colorado.

“It speaks to the absolute lethality of fentanyl and because of that, any possession of fentanyl should be just like any possession of ketamine, a date rape drug, should be a felony,” said Rep. Terri Carver, R-El Paso, who proposed an amendment that would have made any possession of fentanyl a felony. The measure failed 6-5.

Less than a gram of fentanyl possession would stay a misdemeanor

Lawmakers settled on making it a level four felony if someone knowingly possesses 1 or more grams of the lethal drug. Garnett said making zero possession a felony would cause issues for several parties involved.

“Going to zero creates huge consequences for on the judicial process for how they handle individual cases and the impact that it’ll have on lives,” Garnett said.

The latest draft of the measure leaves possession of less than a gram a misdemeanor, but if someone gets hit with that misdemeanor four times, they would then face a felony.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado, the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police responded to the amendments, saying in a statement:

“Today, legislators missed an opportunity to make possession of fentanyl at any level a felony. Instead they chose to ‘compromise’ lives of Coloradans by allowing possession of 1 gram of fentanyl with little consequence (misdemeanor). We will continue our push to protect every Coloradan from the scourge of fentanyl and seek amendments on the House floor for felony for simple possession of any amount.”

The bill now head to the House Appropriations Committee.