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Legalize Fentanyl Test Strips, Say Mississippi Lawmakers, Law Enforcement

A group of Mississippi lawmakers is seeking to legalize fentanyl test strips, a tool used to detect the presence of the synthetic opioid. When added to other drugs, fentanyl can cause lethal overdoses for users who are unaware of its presence.

Earlier this year, Sen. Nicole Boyd, R-Oxford, sponsored S.B. 2284, which would have specifically excluded “narcotic drug testing products that are used to determine whether a controlled substance contains fentanyl or a fentanyl analog” from Mississippi’s list of controlled drug “paraphernalia.” That bill, and a similar one in the House from Rep. Christopher M. Bell, D-Jackson, died in committee without a full hearing in either chamber.

Sen. Nicole Boyd, R-Oxford, told the Mississippi Free Press in an interview that fentanyl test strips could save lives. Photo courtesy Nicole Boyd

Today, Boyd told the Mississippi Free Press in an interview that more people need to understand what the test strip’s purpose was. “I think the bill was a little misunderstood last year. Essentially what we’re doing is just deregulating and decriminalizing this test strip,” she said.

‘You Can Save Their Lives’

Fentanyl is a powerful pharmaceutical that, when used properly and in correct doses, treats chronic pain patients and cancer patients through patches on the skin, but some illicit drug dealers secretly add it to other drugs to make users think they are purchasing more potent versions of other substances. The results have often proved deadly.

Because of the dangers of other substances containing concealed fentanyl, Boyd said, fentanyl test strips can mean the difference between life and death for first time users and long-term addicts alike.

“Say somebody has a Xanax that they don’t get from the pharmacy, and they use this strip,” Boyd explained. “If it shows that it is positive for fentanyl, you literally have saved that person’s life. I think this is also a tool to really help educate our kids, too. When you’re that age, in college, in high school, you feel pretty indestructible. You don’t think that bad things are going to happen to you.”

Something as simple as the bright red line showing

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