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House approves bill to decriminalize fentanyl test strips

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Opioid Epidemic Test Strips

An addict prepares heroin, placing a fentanyl test strip into the mixing container to check for contamination in New York. If the strip registers a "pinkish" to red marker then the heroin is positive for contaminants.

HARRISBURG — Test strips to help drug users identify fentanyl and other potentially deadly chemicals would no longer be classified as illegal paraphernalia under a bill passed unanimously by the Pennsylvania House on Monday.

The legislation to amend the state's Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act can help reduce overdoses, said the sponsor, Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana.

“If we can give people a simple tool to give them a second chance, we need do that,” Struzzi said in floor remarks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far stronger than heroin, gets added to other drugs to make them cheaper, stronger and more dangerous.

Supporters say the proposed change in law will help drug users avoid overdoses by testing for fentanyl without the risk of being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

The measure was sent to the state Senate for consideration.

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