Some hope Florida legislation to legalize fentanyl test strips can save lives

A new tool for fighting the opioid crisis could be coming to Florida.
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 8:08 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A new tool for fighting the opioid crisis could be coming to Florida.

Two Democratic state lawmakers filed bills last month to decriminalize fentanyl test strips.

Similar legislation was introduced last year, but faced pushback from Republicans, and was ultimately unsuccessful.

One Tallahassee woman, Susan Dodd, lost her daughter Bella to fentanyl poisoning in 2020. Now, she wants to see more resources for those struggling with addiction. She says legalizing fentanyl test strips could be a game changer.

“I think it could make a real difference,” Dodd said. “If someone knew that this could kill you, most of the time, they would not take it.”

Critics worry legalization could be seen as enabling drug use. Others say test strips aren’t the answer.

Tim Santamour is the director of outreach for the Florida Harm Reduction Collective. He’s skeptical about whether legalizing fentanyl test strips will have much of an impact.

“All we’re doing is putting a strip in somebody’s hand,” Santamour said. “If there’s not follow-up services, we’re going to lose folks anyway.”

He wants to see more dramatic action and more investments made into community organizations working to help people with substance use disorders.

“There’s a lot more to be done,” Santamour said. “Implementing a full-on harm reduction strategy across the state—that would go a lot further.

Both he and Dodd agree on one thing: they want to save as many lives as possible.

“I loved my daughter so very much and I would have done anything to prevent this from happening,” Dodd said. “Anything that can help someone else’s family, someone else’s child stay alive, I’m all for it.”

Fentanyl test strips are illegal in a majority of the country, but several states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, have legalized them in recent years.