Wisconsin Health News
Lawmakers are considering legalizing fentanyl testing strips, which can determine whether a substance contains the highly powerful synthetic opioid.
Current law considers fentanyl testing strips drug paraphernalia, making it a felony for any person to use or possess with intent to use.
Bill author Rep. Jesse James, R-Altoona, said last week the strips are “valuable, life-saving and very inexpensive.”
“We have a chance in Wisconsin to take a step forward in ending the increase of overdose deaths happening statewide,” James told the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. “Saving lives should never be a partisan issue or up for debate.”
“Let’s prevent the next fentanyl death,” said Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, D-Milwaukee. “Let’s pass this bill.”
Kristen Grimes, director of prevention services at Vivent Health, said they distributed more than 54,000 fentanyl test strips last year. They received around 3,700 reports back about their use from clients.
The reports show that once clients identified a drug with fentanyl, they used safer behaviors to reduce their risk of overdose, she said. That could include taking less of the drug to see how it feels, using it with friends to keep an eye on each other and telling others about what they’re finding in their drugs.
“I can tell you from personal experience, our clients do not want to die,” Grimes said. “They’re tired of watching their friends die. And they can utilize fentanyl test strips to save their lives.”