Fentanyl Test Kits Used to Prevent Overdose Illegal in Texas

A measure that would eliminate penalties for drug paraphernalia, including fentanyl testing strips, failed to pass last year

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Across the nation, advocacy groups are turning to fentanyl testing kits as a “harm reduction” measure in the fight against drugs.

Racheal Wright’s son Luke died in his bedroom in 2020 after taking what he thought was just Percocet. It was laced with fentanyl.

“I jumped on the bed and I started trying to wake him up. I was screaming his name and I opened his eyelids and his eyes rolled back in different directions,” Wright said.

Luke was just sixteen. She thinks about what could’ve been had Luke had access to Narcan, or a fentanyl test strip kit, or anything that might’ve saved his life.

“I’m sure that would’ve helped a lot,” she said. “If he would’ve known it had fentanyl in it, I don’t think he would’ve done it.”

The Biden Administration introduced what’s called a harm reduction plan – which would increase access to clean needles and fentanyl test strips. The strips would alert users of the presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can result in death within minutes.

State Representative Jasmine Crockett presented a measure during the 2021 legislative session that would eliminate penalties for drug paraphernalia – including fentanyl testing strips. The measure didn’t pass.

“We want to make sure that when someone is addicted and they’re using these items that they’re getting off the streets at least we want it not to be laces with something that could be lethal,” Crockett said. “We need to make sure we’re working on addiction and working on it in a smart way.”

Texas has embraced the distribution of Narcan, but the test strips have not won approval. Critics are concerned the strips will encourage drug use. Also, Senator Ted Cruz has been vocal against Biden’s drug harm-reduction plan.

While lawmakers disagree on how to address this growing problem, Wright says her focus is preventing deaths like her son’s.

“These people don’t want to die,” she said. “They want to live, and they want to get into recovery.”

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