PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — On Nov. 3, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf approved House Bill 1393, which decriminalizes fentanyl test strips.
The bill amends the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act of 1972 to no longer define fentanyl test strips as drug paraphernalia, a release from the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Department of Health explained.
Fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin and drug forms including pills, powder, and injectables, according to the release. 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.
“Fentanyl is undetectable through sight, taste, and smell. Unless a drug is tested with a fentanyl test strip, it is nearly impossible for an individual to know if it has been laced with fentanyl,” said Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith. “We continue to encourage all Pennsylvanians to equip themselves with the life-saving drug naloxone, and now with the legalization of fentanyl test strips, individuals have an additional tool to fight the overdose crisis. This legalization is a big win in the harm reduction space.”
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 78% of the 5,343 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2021 involved fentanyl.
“The legalization of fentanyl test strips will undoubtedly help save the lives of Pennsylvanians by reducing drug overdoses,” said Acting Health Secretary and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “Many people take the deadly drug without knowing it. Now, they can use test strips to identify the presence of fentanyl, so they are not accidentally exposed to the drug.”
“Harm reduction is a proven public health approach that minimizes the negative consequences of drug use, saves lives, improves health outcomes, and strengthens families and communities. This approach recognizes that there will always be individuals using and misusing legal and illegal drugs, and addresses the conditions of their use,” the press release said.