Bipartisan Kentucky bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips clears House

By: - March 8, 2023 4:46 pm

Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, displayed after a drug bust in New York. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FRANKFORT — A bipartisan Kentucky bill that would pave the way for fentanyl strips to not be considered illegal drug paraphernalia passed the House unanimously 93-0 on Wednesday. 

House Bill 353 is sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill and has three Democratic co-sponsors. 

Fentanyl test strips, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are paper strips that can detect the presence of fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid — in pills and other drugs within minutes. Using them can help prevent overdoses, the CDC says

“People with a substance use disorder shouldn’t be arrested when they’re trying to stay alive,” Moser said on the House floor. “Access to fentanyl test strips and a strong education and awareness campaign are evidence-based practices that will prevent fatal overdoses and the all-to-present death that we see from fentanyl.” 

In 2021, 2,250 Kentuckians died from overdoses, Volunteers of America previously reported, with fentanyl playing a role in 73% of those fatalities. That’s an increase from 2020, when the CDC reported 2,083 deaths in the state, which had one of the nation’s worst rates of fatal overdoses. 

“Given the insidious introduction of fentanyl into the illicit drug supply chains, such as counterfeit pills that we see being bought on the street, the risk of accidental overdose and unintentional exposure is extraordinarily high,” said Moser. “Making fentanyl test strips more available is going to change behavior and it will save lives.” 

The bill may proceed to the Senate now.


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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky. She has covered everything from crime to higher education. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. At the Kentucky Lantern, she covers mental health, abortion, COVID-19 and more.