Fentanyl test strips no longer considered drug paraphernalia in Kentucky
RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - Legislation that decriminalizes fentanyl testing strips has been signed into Kentucky law, after easily passing in the House and Senate this past legislative session.
The strips are used to test drugs for the lethal substance, fentanyl.
According to the 2021 Kentucky Overdose Fatality Report, fentanyl was found in nearly 73% of overdose deaths.
“There’s hope,” said Mike St. John. “We can change. We’ve got to do whatever it takes to keep people alive.”
St. John and his wife, Marie, operate St. John Recovery LLC, and have opened two recovery houses in Madison County. They have battled addiction, and are working to save others.
“The epidemic of drugs is not going anywhere,” said Marie. “It’s these small steps that people are going to take, that it’s going to save lives.”
According to the bill’s language, if a fentanyl test strip has any residue on it, it will not be a prosecutable offense.
“That may be the turning point to say, ‘Hey. I know if I do this, I’m going to die,’” said Mike. “Maybe he lays the bag down, or disposes of it the correct way today. We have to do anything to save people’s lives.”
The St. Johns do not see this as a hall pass to use drugs. They believe it will save lives until the user is ready to seek treatment.
“They’re gonna use anyway,” said Marie. “So if we can make it as safe as possible for them to use anyway and not die, by all means, I’m going to help them.”
“People without experience, they’re going to sit here and say, ‘Well you’re giving them a free pass. They should go to jail, they should do this, they should do that,’” said Mike. “Just sit back and understand from people with experience. Until you fight the Devil, you don’t know what substance use disorder is about.”
Under the bill, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will coordinate with the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to conduct the fentanyl education and awareness campaign.
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