GOP Rep. Sandridge Strikes Back Against Fentanyl Fearmongering

UPDATE: Here’s an example of the kind of misinformation Rep. Shane Sandridge is denouncing his fellow Republicans for:

We’d say it’s time for an intraparty conference call.


Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs).

As Republicans in Colorado have ruthlessly attacked Democrats over the past few months over perceived rising crime rates, exploiting a complicated nationwide issue for oversimplified-at-best local political traction, they’ve relied heavily on one particular piece of legislation: House Bill 19-1263, which had Republicans as prime sponsors and passed the legislature with bipartisan support–including “yes” votes from numerous Republican stalwarts like Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, GOP Senators Owen Hill, Jack Tate, Don Coram, and Kevin Priola.

HB19-1263 reduced the penalty for simple possession, meaning possession not intended for distribution, of up to four grams of most narcotics to a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony.  The bill did not reduce the penalties for selling any illegal drug, but Republicans along with a few willing accomplices in the local media successfully planted a misleading narrative that “enough fentanyl to kill thousands of people” had been “decriminalized.” This is because in the case of the powerful synthetic opioid drug fentanyl proliferating in distribution recently, a tiny dose can be lethal–but in order the drug to “kill thousands” it would have to be distributed.

In an environment where Republicans are breathlessly pushing a false narrative in order to frighten voters away from Democrats in the upcoming elections, this bill’s Republican supporters and sponsors from 2019 have been suddenly very difficult to get on the record. With one commendable exception: Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, HB19-1263’s prime GOP House sponsor. Speaking to Colorado Public Radio earlier this week, Rep. Sandridge struck back against misinformation about the bill from his colleagues, and in doing so blew a huge hole in his party’s central argument going into the 2022 elections:

State Rep. Shane Sandridge, a Republican who sponsored the de-felonization bill, said that other members of his party were telling “lies” [Pols emphasis] when they said that a drug dealer could get away with a misdemeanor while possessing multiple grams of pure fentanyl. He pointed out that prosecutors can still pursue felony distribution charges against dealers.

“This is politics. It’s a political year, it’s a voting year … They want to go after (Rep.) Leslie Herod. They want to go after Sen. (Pete) Lee and say that they kill people due to this bill,” he said, referring to Democrats who co-sponsored the bill with him.

“I don’t care what party you’re in. Just tell the truth,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Every voter in Colorado needs to read this. And every Republican pushing the “Crimenado” needs to explain right now how their colleague Rep. Sandridge is wrong. None of this is meant to understate the seriousness of the global opioid crisis which predated this legislation, or any victim of crime. The question is whether one is out to actually solve problems, or merely to frighten people for political gain.

This Republican representative just called out his own party more powerfully than any Democrat could.

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    I don’t care what party you’re in. Just tell the truth,” [Sandridge] said.

    Uh oh. I'm picturing a drumming-out ceremony along the line of the opening of that ancient Chuck Connors teevee show Branded.

  2. notaskinnycook says:

    Credit where it's due. Praise them when they do the right thing. They might decide they like how that feels. 

  3. davebarnes says:

    "Every voter in Colorado needs to read this."
    You make laugh.
    1. Voters don't read anything—they watch TV.
    2. Many voters cannot read.
    3. How will this lower the price of motor fuel?

  4. kwtree says:

    It’s true that people are dying of fentanyl overdoses. We lost a sophomore in Jeffco just last month. An entire household overdosed in Commerce City. 

    It’s also true that most of the synthetic, illegal  fentanyl is being smuggled from Mexico.

    But only Republicans would take these tragedies and use them to try to blame Democrats and Mexican immigrants. 

    They won’t vote for drug addiction counseling or therapy or even emergency health funds that might actually prevent some overdose deaths. F*cking hypocrites.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Harm reduction is transformed in Republican rhetoric as "enabling drug abuse." Medical care becomes "abuse."

      Some Republican rhetoric is taking on a Wonderland character:

      'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

      'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

      'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

      That exchange comes when Humpty Dumpty is on a wall, certain the King will send all of his men if he falls off. 

      Alice, and some of the rest of us, have some doubts about the abilities of all the President's men.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Yes, people are dying and it's tragic. But, nothing is ever said about there not being anyone who forces these people to do serious drugs like coke, heroin, etc.

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          How many stories would you like about folks prescribed Fentanyl by licensed, so-called “pain doctors”, who would up addicted to opiods?

          How many Sackler family victims would you like to hear stores from?

          ‘You Murdered My Daughter’: Relatives of OxyContin Victims Confront the Sacklers

          (I challenge anyone to try reading that article while maintaining your sense of moral superiority.)

          Not every addict who ever became an addict began by making the choice of some illicit recreational use. Big pharma knows how to, and works as hard at, creating addiction and junkies as any drug lord.


          • kwtree says:

            There needs to be a really aggressive anti-fentanyl PR campaign. Students are thinking this is just another recreational drug, and that taking half a tablet is no big deal. But it could kill them. The Denver Post article I cited earlier said that 64 Coloradans a month are  dying of fentanyl overdoses. That was last month. It’s up to two deaths a day.

            Since fentanyl is a strong narcotic with euphoria as well as pain-killing properties, yes, people are taking it to kill job-related pain. And yes, people are taking it as a “feel-good” drug.  And some will die from it. EMTs and every school needs Naloxone on hand.

            For the legal, prescribed fentanyl, we need to have the same limits put in place as we did for oxycontin – no auto-renewal, discourage addiction, promote alternatives for pain management. This will lessen profits for Big Pharma – but families of victims should start suing them until they pay for the anti-fentanyl ads, just as they finally did for oxycontin.

            And kudos to Mr. Sandridge for sticking with the science, and declining to amplify political finger-pointing that doesn’t help save lives.

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