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Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2020 10:50 AM
From: Senator Timothy P. Kearney
To: All Senate members
Subject: Legalizing Personal Use of Fentanyl Test Strips
I will soon introduce legislation to decrease the number of deaths associated with illegal drug use by legalizing fentanyl test strips for personal use in the Commonwealth.

Fentanyl is a powerful, addictive, synthetic opioid similar to morphine but up to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Oftentimes fentanyl is added to other drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, without the knowledge of those who use it. This is especially dangerous because a person might be taking stronger opioids than their bodies are used to, making them more susceptible to overdose.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyl and similar drugs rose to more than 31,355 in 2018 from 3,000. According to the CDC, in 2017 alone, deaths involving fentanyl increased by more than 45 percent.

Under current law, test strips to detect fentanyl are defined as “drug paraphernalia.” Thus, they are prohibited by criminal laws that carry serious penalties. By allowing those who are in the grip of addiction to possess and use test strips to test their own drugs for fentanyl, we will be able to reduce the number of overdoses.

Our state is currently facing a terrible and terrifying opioid epidemic. We must continue to make laws and policies that work to save lives. I hope you will join me in this effort.

Introduced as SB845