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Mass. Senate Passes Bill to Legalize Fentanyl Test Strips

By Tom Marino | January 8, 2024
Last Updated: January 8, 2024

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill, S.2543 An Act relative to fentanyl test strips, aimed at preventing overdoses and saving lives by legalizing the sale, possession, and distribution of fentanyl test strips and related testing equipment in the state.

Fentanyl test strips enable the detection of in substances, such as other recreational drugs. Studies have shown that fentanyl test strips are effective in harm reduction, leading to safer drug use behaviors, including discarding drugs which test positive for fentanyl. Senator Michael Moore expressed strong support for the legislation, emphasizing its potential to save lives and help those struggling with opioid addiction.

There were 2,323 overdoses reported from October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023 in Massachusetts. Fentanyl was present in 93 percent of fatal overdoses in the first three months of 2023. The Department of Public Health data shows a 2.5% rise in opioid-related deaths in 2022.

The Department of Public Health collaborated with six police departments in 2020 to distribute fentanyl test strips. The pilot showed positive outcomes, but confusion over the legal status of the strips prevented broad implementation. The bill protects those who provide or use fentanyl test strips from criminal or civil liability.

Fentanyl test strips are currently legal in 36 other states and the District of Columbia.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives must pass the bill before the governor has the option to sign it into law.

Image Credit: Hsin Ju HSU, Massachusetts Statehouse, CC BY-SA 3.0

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