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Kansas Governor signs bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed a bill Thursday that she hopes will decrease drug overdose deaths.

Kelly signed Senate Bill 174, a bipartisan bill that decriminalizes fentanyl test strips. Such strips can detect the presence of fentanyl in other substances, so Kelly thinks they could help prevent overdose deaths in Kansas. 

“Overdoses caused by fentanyl have devastated communities across Kansas and the nation,” Governor Kelly said in a press release issued by her office. “By decriminalizing fentanyl test strips, we are providing the resources needed to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic so that families and loved ones no longer have to feel the pain of a preventable death.” 

This marked the third year someone filed this type of bill in the Kansas legislature. In 2022, a similar bill passed unanimously in the House but never came up for a vote in the Senate. 

State Representative Jason Probst, D-Hutchinson, said the new law will save the lives of young Kansas residents.

“Today, with the signing of SB 174, Kansas is putting into action the values of kindness, compassion, and love for our neighbors,” Probst said in the release. “By decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips, we are helping Kansans protect themselves from a deadly poison that has taken far too many lives – including the tragic and profoundly painful loss of far too many teenagers and young adults in our state.” 

State Representative Stephen Owens, R-Hesston, praised Governor Kelly for signing the bill into law.

“The fentanyl epidemic is devastating our communities. Senate Bill 174 represents our first steps in working together to fight this terrible drug,” Owens said in the release. “I am proud to stand with Governor Kelly as we continue to work together to save lives.” 

More than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kansans seeking substance abuse treatment can find some available options here.