Ohio lawmakers introduced a bill to decriminalize fentanyl testing strips for residents of the state.
The legislation, House Bill 456, would remove the strips that change color if fentanyl is detected from the list of drug paraphernalia that is prohibited.
The goal of the items is to alert individuals that drugs may be laced with the extremely lethal narcotic, potentially saving lives.
The measure, introduced by House Democrat Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), follows the overdose deaths of two students at Ohio State University. While not confirmed, officials suspect that fentanyl played a role in the deaths.
“Many of you may know that Ohio State recently had a great loss when two university students who had finished with their finals, were about to go into graduation weekend, ended up overdosing what we believe was on fentanyl from Adderall that they had purchased on the streets. This problem is certainly something that I think we all appreciate is significant and needs to be addressed, and we believe that by decriminalizing these fentanyl testing strips, it’s creating one more tool, one more avenue that could potentially result in somebody avoiding an overdose that is unattended because they are unaware of what substances are in the drugs that they are using,” said State Representative Boggs.
If fully enacted, the new legislation would follow the path of several other states. Earlier this year, Wisconsin moved to decriminalize the materials.
“With easy access to fentanyl, drug dealers are lacing all types of illegal prescription and non-prescription drugs, such as Xanax and Adderall,” argued a Republican state lawmaker in Wisconsin. “Decriminalizing testing strips will allow law enforcement officers, firefighters, medical providers, and others to test substances like these.”
In order to be fully approved, both legislative chambers and Governor Mike DeWine must sign off on the bill.
— — —
Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Kristin Boggs” by Ohio House of Representatives. Background Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by Ɱ. CC BY-SA 4.0.