Gov. Ducey signs bill legalizing drug-testing strips

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation on May 19 legalizing test strips that can detect the presence of the potent opiate fentanyl and potentially help avoid deadly overdoses.

The measure was overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature and will allow drug users to buy the strips to check whether drugs are laced with fentanyl.

"We want everyone who is using drugs to seek professional treatment," Ducey said. "But until someone is ready to get help, we need to make sure they have the tools necessary to prevent a lethal overdose."

Democratic Sen. Christine Marsh sponsored SB1486 after last year’s death of her 25-year-old son, Landon Marsh.

"It's a teeny strip, and a person can mix water, a tiny bit of drug residue, and the strip will tell you once you switch the strip around in the substance," Marsh explained. "The strip will say whether there's fentanyl on not."

She tearfully testified during a February committee hearing about how her recently married son had one night of "being really stupid" with his childhood best friend. He took what he thought was a prescription pain pill that turned out to be laced with fentanyl. He had been working toward a degree in mechanical engineering when he died.

"I contend that a night of stupidity should not result in death," Marsh said.

State senator Christine Marsha says that these strips will help save the lives of many people across the state. She says the passing of this bill was bittersweet.

She believes the strips can save people's lives, whether they're addicts or occasional users.

"I’m just very grateful that we have one more tool to help alleviate and mitigate the horrible overdoses that we’ve had in recent years," Marsh said.

In a statement released by Ducey’s office, Marsh said, "no one should have to suffer the loss of their loved one to addiction or accidental overdose."

The test strips will no longer be considered illegal drug paraphernalia when the law takes effect 90 days after the legislative session ends.

Ducey has made fighting the opioid crisis a major issue while in office and signed legislation in 2016 allowing pharmacists to dispense an opioid antidote known as Naloxone without a prescription.

The state Health Services Department reports that 9,368 people have died of opiate overdoses in Arizona since June 15, 2017. Many of those deaths involved ingesting drugs laced with fentanyl.

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