By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – As communities across Colorado continue to combat the fentanyl crisis, another group is saying it’s impacting them profoundly: business leaders. A group of those leaders, along with law enforcement officials, tackled the issue in a round table discussion on Monday.

“One pill can kill” was the message echoed repeatedly from many, including Basalt Chief Greg Knott, who is the President of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

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“It doesn’t discriminate by no means. It’s that one pill can kill, and it can kill anyone,” Knott told CBS4’s Mekialaya White.

He says it’s a poison that’s infiltrating our state right now.

“We have tragic deaths of infants to teenagers to adult family members.”

“Fentanyl kills. Period. More than any other drug we have seen in a long time,” added George Brauchler, 18th Judicial District Attorney.

The number of fentanyl-related deaths in Colorado continues to climb, according to new analysis from The Common Sense Institute detailing the impact of fentanyl. In 2020, Colorado saw 540 of those deaths; in 2021, nearly 900.

“The numbers are staggering, what the costs are, and that’s the concern statewide,” said Knott.

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Fentanyl is increasingly taking its toll on our economy. Total costs attributed to fentanyl overdoses were approximately $11 billion in 2021. President of the Colorado Business Roundtable Debbie Brown says it’s also hurting businesses.

“Not only is it an impact on Denver employers where they’re seeing less customers, and less interest in employees wanting to work in areas of Colorado. Eventually, that will have an impact on sales and jobs as well,” said Brown. “The economic disruption is strong. Workforce has been the #1 issue for employers.”

The group is pushing for stricter punishment for fentanyl possession. State lawmakers will meet on Tuesday for a hearing on one of the most important bills in legislature regarding fentanyl.

Mekialaya White