Texas State Assemblyman James Talarico is introducing a bill to legalize fentanyl test strips

A similar bill was introduced during the last legislature and received bipartisan support but never got the floor.

Austin, Texas-Texas State Assemblyman James Talarico filed a bill Thursday aimed at legalizing fentanyl test strips in the state.

said Talarico over House bill 85 is a matter of life and death as the fentanyl epidemic continues to sweep the US

“If we don’t pass this law, Texans will die needlessly,” Talarico said. “I think we have a moral obligation to make sure our loved ones, our family members, our neighbors who are struggling with addiction are safe from this deadly synthetic fentanyl.”

Despite the rising number of drug toxicity deaths and reports of fentanyl overdoses, tools used to detect the ultrapotent synthetic opioid are still classified as drug paraphernalia — making it a criminal offense to possess or distribute them.

The practice of “drug control” – essentially testing illicit drugs to see if they contain unknown toxins – remains controversial, even as the fentanyl death crisis has drawn national attention.

“We have an addiction crisis in this country that we need to address, we are working on it too. But we have a short-term crisis of this deadly synthetic being on the drugs that Texans are taking. It’s killing them at a rapid rate,” Talarico said. “By legalizing fentanyl test strips, we can save the lives of Texans.”

Harm reduction services — like providing fentanyl test strips — were a pillar of President Joe Biden’s plan to tackle America’s overdose epidemic, which killed more than 104,000 Americans from September 2020 to September 2021.

But the concept has been dismissed by some, who argue it encourages drug use rather than trying to help people abstain altogether. Fentanyl test strips are only legal in 19 states.

“[Fentanyl testing strips] can stop them from taking it and hopefully save the life of a son or daughter, mother or father or grandparent who is struggling with addiction and we can get them the help they need,” Talarico said .

2021, Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D Dallas), introduced a bill that would have decriminalized drug paraphernalia in Texas, including fentanyl test strips. Rep. Crockett received bipartisan support, but the bill failed to get the floor in the last legislative session. She is now running for the US Congress.

MP Talarico said he wants to push his bill further and believes he too will have bipartisan support.

“I am confident that Democrats and Republicans will come together to pass life-saving legislation like this,” Talarico said. We can disagree on the budget and on political issues – but when it comes to protecting our communities and our loved ones, we can all get on board.”

At the local level, Travis County Judge Andy Brown has long pushed for the legalization of fentanyl test strips.

In May, the county declared a public health crisis as drug overdoses increased. The declaration ensures safe disposal of syringes throughout the district. It’s expanding access to Narcan and funding $350,000 for harm reduction supplies that the county has reportedly begun using.

In October, Austin-Travis County received 9,900 doses of naloxone, or Narcan, the life-saving drug that reverses opioid overdoses. The drug is currently in high demand and scarce.

Narcan works by attaching itself to opioid receptors, reversing and blocking the effects of opioids. This will quickly restore breathing in someone whose breathing has slowed or stopped due to an overdose.

Corresponding Travis County Medical Examiner Annual Report 2021, Drug overdoses are the #1 cause of accidental deaths in the county. Looking at crash fatalities in the county, the number of drug overdose deaths surpassed those from falling and dying in automobile accidents.

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/texas/texas-james-talarico-bill-legalize-fentanyl-testing-strips/269-d06af62d-331e-4081-9d1d-257e5cd73c95 Texas State Assemblyman James Talarico is introducing a bill to legalize fentanyl test strips

Laura Coffey

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