The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-10) and co-chaired by Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-10), advanced a bill legalizing the personal use and possession of fentanyl test strips to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Bill 845, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kearney (D-26), amends the definition of drug paraphernalia contained in the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to specifically exclude fentanyl test strips utilized for personal use.
Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is inexpensive to make and is easily cut into drugs, including heroin and cocaine. According to the CDC, in 2019, fentanyl was found in 51 percent of the total overdose deaths in the United States.
“The prevalence of fentanyl in street drugs has dramatically increased opioid deaths in every community,” said Santarsiero. “If we can do everything that we can do to save lives, while we are doing all the other things to stop this opioid epidemic and help people, then that’s what we ought to be doing.”
Fentanyl test strips can identify the presence of fentanyl in unregulated drugs. They can be used to test injectable drugs, powders and pills, allowing for harm-reducing decision making by the user. To date, 14 states have passed similar legislation.
“I have heard from families in Bucks County who support this legislation because it will prevent fatal overdoses. With strong, bipartisan support, I was pleased to see this legislation voted unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Santarsiero. “If SB 845 is enacted into law, Pennsylvania would join 18 other states and Washington DC for providing greater access for personal use of fentanyl test strips to prevent overdoses and save lives.”