Regionalization: More states legalizing fentanyl test strips to combat opioid deaths

Editor/News Director:

A growing number of states are decriminalizing fentanyl test strips to protect drug users from unwitting exposure to the highly potent synthetic opioids that cause overdose deaths in the United States.

The strip can detect fentanyl in cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and many other drugs, whether in pills, powders, or injections, and is supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a way to prevent fentanyl overdoses. increase. But while strips are still technically illegal in some states under drug paraphernalia laws dating back decades, few prosecutions for their possession have been recorded nationwide.

At least 20 states have now legalized test strips, including several states earlier this year, to combat the rising death toll from the opioid crisis.

Let’s take a look at the impact of this decriminalization and which states have legalized stripping.


AP coverage

Life-saving fentanyl test strips still illegal in some states under ’70s war-drug laws


State legislatures decriminalize stripping this year (2023)

– Ohio

— Pennsylvania

— Mississippi

south dakota

— Kentucky

— Kansas

— Utah

— Florida (awaiting governor’s signature)

Hawaii (awaiting Governor’s signature)


States with decriminalization bills still pending

— Texas

— Montana


Publishable context

Fentanyl has been responsible for overdose deaths in the United States since 2016, a situation that has not changed despite the continued injection of cheap, deadly synthetic opioids into the pharmaceutical supply. Of the approximately 110,000 overdose deaths in 2022, about 75,000 may be linked to fentanyl, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Legalizing test strips could lower that number, help more people understand how deadly the drug is, and potentially save lives, proponents say.

of CDC recommends fentanyl test strips as a low-cost means of preventing drug overdoses.

But these little pieces of paper are still considered illegal in some states, outlawed under drug implement laws dating back to the war-on-drug era of the 1970s, long before fentanyl began making its way into the domestic drug supply. It is By the mid-1980s, all states except Alaska had anti-instrument laws, making materials illegal for testing and analysis of illegal substances.

Increasingly, strips are thought to have the potential to save lives.


Overdose by State

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dashboard on overdose deaths. To view data by drug, use the drop-down menu under Options and select ‘Preliminary number of drug overdose deaths over 12 months by drug or drug class’. Alternatively, to view data for your state only, select that state under Select Jurisdiction.


Recommended reporting thread

—What is the history of the opioid crisis in your state and how much of an impact has it had on the people living there? Is fentanyl a big part of that impact? ? How many fentanyl overdoses have died in your state?

— The legalization of the Strip is on the rise, but the push has only recently begun. Many organizations, including state agencies, have distributed these technically illegal strips over the years. Ask how that process worked. Did they get a backlash? If so, was it cultural or legal? Or did you receive nothing? why do they think so?

— What small local organization distributes the strips? As depicted in the story, this could be a small non-profit organization, or even a local barber shop. Think about how this is affecting people at the ground level, not just through larger state agencies that people in addiction-stricken communities may not trust.

— Try to get concrete numbers on the number of strips distributed by various community groups and organizations. This can help indicate a need in the community.

—Think of it from the angle that fentanyl strips are useful not only for those who struggle with addiction, but also for those who may use the drug for recreational purposes at parties, concerts, clubs, etc.


additional resources

— Information about fentanyl test strips from the CDC

— Harm Reduction Legal Project. Conduct research on harm reduction strategies and track harm reduction-related policies and legislation. See their work on evidence for fentanyl strips and his 50-state survey of strip legality (2022).

— DanceSafe, one of Strip’s top online retailers. Find average strip prices here.

— Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit organization that seeks to shape drug policy at the national level in the United States

— County and state commissions that specifically address health and addiction often partner with other organizations to distribute these strips, even in states where they aren’t strictly legal. Researching who they work with will often lead to more “in the field” sources.


more APs coverage

— Some people test before taking heroin to avoid overdosing

— False beliefs persist as fentanyl causes overdose deaths

— Drug overdoses in the United States increased slightly last year.But experts see a silver lining


Localize It is an occasional feature that The Associated Press creates for its customers. Please direct questions to Katie Oyan (koyan@ap.org).

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-cdc-pennsylvania-south-dakota-hawaii-b2354039.html Regionalization: More states legalizing fentanyl test strips to combat opioid deaths

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