PHOENIX - A Senate committee has unanimously approved a measure that would legalize the use of test strips that can detect the presence of the potent opiate fentanyl.
The measure by Democratic Sen. Christine Marsh was prompted by the death of her 25-year-old son, Landon Marsh, last year. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved SB1486 on Feb. 17, and it now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Marsh tearfully related how her recently married son had one night of "being really stupid" with his childhood best friend and took what he thought was a Percocet pill that turned out to be laced with fentanyl. He had been working toward a degree in mechanical engineering when he died.
"And that one night of stupidity resulted in my son’s death," Marsh said. "And I contend that a night of stupidity should not result in death."
Sen. Christine Marsh
The test strips are now considered illegal drug paraphernalia.
"My bill simply legalizes a little strip of paper... that a person can use and it reveals whether there is fentanyl in that drug or not," Marsh said.
Marsh, a freshman lawmaker who represents parts of Phoenix and was a former teacher of the year, said her goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl overdoses and save lives.
The state Health Services Department reports that since June 15, 2017, 8,559 people have died of opiate overdoses in Arizona. Many of those are from ingesting drugs laced with fentanyl.
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