COLUMBUS — State Senators Steve Huffman and Nathan Manning testified last week in support of their bill designed to help protect Ohioans from the drug fentanyl.
Ohio’s illicit drug supply is increasingly tainted with fentanyl. The synthetic opioid is many times more potent than heroin and much more deadly. Deaths from unintentional drug overdoses in the state rose by 25 percent from 2019 to 2020. According to the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl was involved in 81 percent of those overdose deaths in 2020.
Currently, individuals can utilize fentanyl test strips to check for the presence of fentanyl with close to 100 percent accuracy. Local public health programs have the ability to distribute these test strips, but current law defines drug paraphernalia to include equipment that tests drugs. Senate Bill 296 would allow Ohioans to check illicit drugs for the presence of fentanyl without criminal penalties.
Senate Bill 296 would also remove legal barriers for the distribution of naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. Anyone would be permitted to possess, administer, and distribute naloxone.
“Public health programs should have the ability to distribute fentanyl test strips and naloxone without fear of breaking the law,” said Manning. “This bill will help Ohioans gain access to important testing equipment and medication that saves lives and helps curb fentanyl use.”
“We don’t condone illegal drug use, but we also don’t want people to die from it,” said Huffman. “Fentanyl is turning up everywhere, and is so deadly that it presents a growing public health crisis.”
The bill is currently in the Senate Health Committee for their consideration.