House Democrats have long been working on solutions to the opioid the opioid crisis

(Apr. 30) – The House gave final approval to a package of bills that are part of the House Democrats’ effort to combat the epidemic of opioid addiction.

The House gave preliminary approval to Rep. Chris Kennedy and Rep. Jonathan Singer’s commonsense bill to examine alternatives to incarceration for individuals who need treatment for addiction instead of jail for drug-related offenses. The bill, a product of the opioid interim committee, also looks to provide behavioral & substance use treatment (MAT) to individuals who may already be incarcerated.

“When we incarcerate people without providing treatment for their substance use disorders, we’re not actually addressing the real problem,” said Rep. Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “By providing treatment, we increase the likelihood that people released from incarceration will be able to rebuild their lives and start contributing to society again.”

“My sincere thanks to counselors, law enforcement and people across the state who came to support this bill. People are literally dying in jail because they are not getting the appropriate treatment for their substance use disorder,” said Rep. Singer, D-Boulder. “This bill provides a pathway that will help those struggling with addiction become productive members of society, not return as burdens to themselves, their families and taxpayers.”

SB19-008 was approved on a bipartisan vote of 47-17. It heads back to the Senate for approval of amendments.

The House also passed SB19-227, sponsored by Rep. Chris Kennedy and Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. This bill authorizes schools to obtain a supply of opiate antagonists, specifies that a licensed or certified hospital may be used as a clean syringe exchange site, creates the opiate antagonist purchase fund and expands the household medication take-back program in the Department of Public Health and Environment.

“While we work to reduce overprescription and increase access to treatment, we can also do more to prevent the spread of diseases and save the lives of those who have not yet sought treatment,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy.

“Addiction is a public health crisis and we are stepping up and finding ways to save lives,” said Rep. Leslie Herod. “This bill will expand treatment and recovery options across the state.”

SB19-227 was approved on  vote of 40-24. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.

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