New Kentucky law decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips goes into effect

New Kentucky law decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips goes into effect
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 3:28 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - More than a dozen new Kentucky laws went into effect on Thursday.

One of them is house bill 353, which decriminalizes fentanyl testing strips.

Prior to Thursday, under Kentucky law, fentanyl testing strips were classified as illegal drug paraphernalia and someone in possession could potentially be charged.

Mike st. John and his wife battled addiction for years, and today, they are seven years clean. They own and operate several recovery houses working to save others. St. John says decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips isn’t an enabler but rather another chance for addicts to seek recovery.

“Recovery is possible, but until you step on this side of the fence to freedom, be safe while you’re in active addiction,” said Mike St. John.

According to the 2021 Kentucky overdose fatality report, fentanyl was in nearly 73% of overdose deaths. Deaths, Mike St. John says, could be avoided if people have a way to test the drugs they’re about to use for the lethal substance.

“I knew fentanyl could kill me, and in the beginning of my run, I didn’t want to die, and once I tested it and it tested positive, then I’m like, ‘woah, I know what this is going to do to me,’” said St. John.

St. John says without the strips, he wouldn’t be here to share his story. He says this law shows that state leaders recognize the importance of more resources and services.

“Incarceration does not lead to sobriety,” said St. John. “We can either shame them, the stigma and push them out in the field by themselves or we can show them love and say ‘I know somebody, I know a place.’”

A place like ‘Jasmine’s house or Korbin’s house. Two of the three recovery centers St. John operates.

“We have Narcan, and we will have fentanyl testing strips because we can’t stop people from bringing drugs into our house, we can’t, but we have to provide some safety net,” said St. John.

Click here to read more about this and where to get fentanyl testing strips.