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'Fentanyl Is Ravaging Our Communities': Leaders From Across Colorado Hold Summit To Address Deadly Crisis

DENVER (CBS4) – Dozens of elected officials, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and victim advocates gathered in Denver on Thursday for a summit on how Colorado can better address the fentanyl crisis. The drug has killed many people and is now regularly showing up in drug tests of those who are overdosing.

"Fentanyl is ravaging our communities. It is killing our kids. It is the most lethal drug out on the street right now," said Brian Mason, the 17th Judicial District Attorney.

Mason, and fellow district attorney John Kellner, were among the many who attended the two-day summit. At the event, attendees were further educated on the dangers of fentanyl and the avenues law enforcement has to try and curb usage.

fentanyl presser
(credit: CBS)

"This training is important because we have people from all across the State of Colorado in one room," Kellner said.

Steve Carleton, executive director of Gallus Medical Detox in the metro area, said he has witnessed the impacts of the crisis firsthand. He recalls first seeing the emergence of fentanyl while working in a hospital for veterans. Years later it is now one of the most addictive drugs available.

"We are not seeing heroin. We are not seeing illegal use and diversion of prescription pills anymore. It is all fentanyl on the streets.This is absolutely a public health crisis." Carleton told CBS4's Dillon Thomas.

Carleton said he hoped that those attending the summit would not only review their approaches to enforcement, but also on resources that are provided to those who are hooked on the drug.

"It is the leading cause of death for adults aged 18 to 45. Arrests alone are not going to solve this problem. We have to have better access to quality care," Carleton said.

Meanwhile, district attorneys at the summit told CBS4 that this event will ultimately help save lives.

"The people who are most at risk are our young people. Middle school students, high school students, college students and young adults who take an oxy pill not knowing it is laced with fentanyl and they take it and never wake up," Mason said.

"This is an issue we all have to tackle together. We can't be in a silo. We have to be talking and learning from each other," Kellner said.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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