An interim state legislative committee studying drug use disorders voted Wednesday on five broad categories in which to draft bills for the 2019 legislative session. Their efforts will address treatment, recovery, harm reduction, prevention and criminal justice. Notably, a harm reduction bill will not include a proposal for a safe injection site.
The committee members have until Sept. 12 to get the bill drafts ready for fiscal analysis, and will vote on the bills in October.
Wednesday’s meeting continued the previous week’s slate of presentations from stakeholders around the state about policy changes and resources they need to come through the legislature to address substance use. Among others, committee members heard from physicians, law enforcement and pharmaceutical experts. Some issues carrying the day included increased education for doctors about treatment and the need to decrease costs to patients of opioid alternatives.
According to Rep. Brittany Pettersen, the committee’s chair, the opioid crisis costs Colorado between $750 million and $1 billion each year. But in the last legislative session, she said, lawmakers had to fight to get just $18 million in funding to address the crisis. Wednesday’s meeting came on the heels of reports that a ballot initiative has been certified for November that would raise Denver’s sales and use tax rate by 0.25 percent to raise money for community-based drug treatment services.