Florida looks at legalizing fentanyl test strips

Lawmakers nationwide, including in Florida, are leaning into a solution they believe can slow the deadly trend of fentanyl overdoses.

FORT LAUDERDALE (NewsNation) — Fentanyl deaths continue to ravage communities across the country, and while law enforcement is trying to get a grip on the epidemic, lawmakers nationwide are leaning into a solution they believe can slow the deadly trend.

A number of states are moving to decriminalize fentanyl test strips, including Florida, where fentanyl-related deaths are up 800% in the last eight years. That’s why once again lawmakers in the Sunshine State are working on a solution they say could save lives.

Fentanyl test strips are designed to detect whether fentanyl is in an any illicit drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the strips have the potential to help reduce overdoses.

But most states categorize the strips as “drug paraphernalia,” making them illegal.

Senate Bill 164 would change that designation in Florida. So far, the bill has received bipartisan support and received a favorable vote from the Criminal Justice Committee.

A similar bill is also moving through the Florida House.

If legislation is passed, Florida would join more than 20 states that have decriminalized fentanyl test strips in recent years. In 2022, states including California, Georgia, Illinois and Pennsylvania all legalized the use of fentanyl test strips.

So far this year, test strips have become legal in Ohio.

While Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Struzzi has said he doesn’t condone drug use, “People are going to use them.”

“And if they can at least test that substance or maybe not use as much of it or maybe not use that particular one when they realize, ‘Oh this could kill me,’ maybe they’ll think twice about it,” Struzzi said.

The testing strips are inexpensive, costing about $1. But many, including the CDC, believe this could help in the current fentanyl crisis. Many of the fentanyl deaths happen because people aren’t aware whatever drug they’re taking is laced with the deadly synthetic opioid.

While this could potentially save a life, some believe the strips enable those who at the end of the day are doing drugs illegally.


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