House Bill 353 to decriminalize fentanyl testing strips, other drug-testing tools

Kentucky House Bill 353 would "decriminalize equipment used to determine the presence of chemicals, toxic substances or hazardous compounds," like fentanyl.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 6:24 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - As the Kentucky General Assembly begins to wrap up, many legislators are working diligently to pass legislation. This includes House Bill 353, a bill that could potentially reduce fentanyl overdoses.

According to the Warren County Drug Task Force, 28 people died from a drug overdose in 2022. Now, Warren County has seen 13 overdose deaths within the first three months of 2023.

“We are off to set a record number that I hope we do not, but it does not look good. That is basically a two-and-a-half-month period that we are talking about,” said Tommy Loving, director of the Warren County Drug Task Force.

Kentucky House Bill 353 would “decriminalize equipment used to determine the presence of chemicals, toxic substances or hazardous compounds in controlled substances,” like fentanyl.

Representative for Kentucky’s 64th District and one of the head sponsors of the bill, Kim Moser, said that decriminalizing tools like fentanyl test strips could benefit anybody that comes across fentanyl, whether intentionally or accidentally.

“Anyone who comes into contact with fentanyl has the potential to be subjected to an overdose. This is also a tool that law enforcement can use when they come upon a scene, perhaps someone has overdosed. Before they touch the substance, they need to test it,” said Moser.

While House Bill 353 was highly favored amongst legislators, some local officials say that decriminalizing these tools may not help decrease the number of fentanyl overdoses.

“They could be used to make sure you are getting fentanyl, or make sure that if you are going to use meth, there is no fentanyl in it. Again, I just do not see this as a big help or necessarily a hindrance,” said Loving.

Loving said that he personally never considered fentanyl test strips to be drug paraphernalia in the first place.

“We are not looking for people with drug paraphernalia. We are after people that are actually selling drugs in the community,” said Loving.

Rep. Moser said that people should not be afraid to avoid any type of drug overdose, reiterating the importance of this bill being signed into law.

“People should not fear being arrested or prosecuted for trying to avoid an accidental overdose. We also need to increase our awareness around the fact that fentanyl poses a really grave danger to anyone that comes into contact with it,” said Moser.

The bill passed unanimously through the Kentucky House. It is currently on the Senate floor waiting to be voted on.