PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a bill to legalize the possession of fentanyl test strips.

Supporters say the strips can help prevent overdoses when people aren’t aware that other drugs — or even drinks at a bar — may have been laced with the powerful opioid.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network (PAHRN) says any win is a success for those who have been working tirelessly over the last year to have their voices heard.

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“Having access to drug checking tools is something we desperately need in Pennsylvania, but that’s only one piece of it. But I know the only way we’re going to continue to advance legislation is one if our elected officials are willing to look at this as a public health and human rights issue and not a political issue,” said PAHRN’s Jordan Scott.

The Fentanyl Testing Strip Bill is the tip of the iceberg for people struggling with addiction, but arguably one of the most important actions, said Scott.  

Fentanyl is undetectable through sight, taste, and smell and can be pressed into pills and other street drugs. Currently, the strips are illegal because they are classified as drug paraphernalia. 

According to PAHRN, Pennsylvania has had 5,000 overdose deaths in 2021, with the drug present in 40-60% of them.

This has been a constant battle for advocates across the state, taking the forefront over the last year. Earlier this summer, the House passed the bill unanimously.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote, and if it passes there, it will head to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.