GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KREX) — Last year, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office removed more than 30,000 fentanyl pills from our local streets. So far this year, they’ve already removed another 15,000 pills. Our local crisis is part of a much bigger problem, with fentanyl killing people across the state and the entire country.

The problem also extends beyond U.S. borders. In 2020, the DEA issued a warning that the vast majority of counterfeit drugs brought into the United States are produced in Mexico and maybe laced with fentanyl.

Andrea Thomas, with Voices for Awareness, told reporters, that fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for 13 to 50 years old’s. Just one gram of fentanyl, basically equivalent to one pack of sugar, can kill up to 500 people.

House Bill 1326, would make distribution leading to death a felony and lower the amount for distributors to face felony charges. Sheriff Rowell is behind those measures but is also asking that any possession of fentanyl be charged as a felony crime.

Sheriff Rowell also says, “this is an opportunity, I’m not opposing this bill. This is a great bill and I really appreciate the sponsors putting it forward to try to tackle this issue, but it could be strengthened, and we don’t have time to wait until the next legislative session. Again, every year, this is doubling, it is twice the problem next year if we try to tackle it next legislative session.”