(WKBN) – The state of Pennsylvania is considering legalizing a test that would indicate if drugs are laced with fentanyl.
“Essentially, fentanyl test strips allow somebody who’s using opioids or cocaine to test their drugs before they use them to see if it could be tainted with fentanyl,” said Tracy Bornick of the Mercer Health Behavioral Health Commission.
One of the questions is will the tests help decrease overdoses or will they promote drug use? Bornick believes the strips would do more good than harm.
“Test strips are certainly a harm reduction philosophy and it’s a way to further have conversations with individuals who are using, who are dependent so that we can connect them with resources they might need in order to continue to engage in recovery,” she said.
Columbus began a pilot program called Project LIFE, which is designed to reduce the rate of accidental overdoses by limiting involuntary fentanyl exposure. It cites fentanyl testing strips as a “life-saving overdose prevention tool.”
Illegal drugs being laced with fentanyl has been an ongoing issue, leading to an uptick in overdose rates.
In November of last year, a town hall held in Youngstown by the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program discussed the danger many drug users are facing due to fentanyl-laced drugs.
Tracy Styka, a community health education specialist with Mahoning County Public Health, said they’re seeing fentanyl in roughly 80 – 90% of the overdose deaths in Mahoning County and in the state. Not only are they seeing it in hard drugs, but in marijuana as well.
Right now, the test strip is not legal, so anyone caught with one could be accused of having drug paraphernalia. A bill introduced in Pennsylvania is currently being discussed in the Statehouse. You can find more information about the bill, and how other cities have implemented the test strips here.