Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

House committee approves bill to decriminalize fentanyl test strips

A bill to decriminalize fentanyl testing strips is moving on to the Ohio House. Although widely available and encouraged as an overdose protection tool, the strips are currently classified as drug paraphernalia under state law.

Democratic Representative Kristin Boggs introduced the bill after two Ohio State students died from fentanyl overdose when they thought they were taking Adderall.

At a committee hearing on HB 456 today, OSU Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy Kelsey Schmuhl testified harm reduction tools like testing strips are crucial to reducing overdose deaths.

"Harm reduction does not enable drug use, and it does not increase drug use. Harm reduction keeps people alive, and provides critical access to the health care system for a patient population that often does not seek care due to fear and stigma."

Schmuhl says 56,000 Ohioans died in 2020 from overdose on synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Free fentanyl drug testing strips are commonly distributed by health departments and other organizations in many Ohio cities. But under current law, a person who possesses or uses the strips could be charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor, and face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.