From Reason:
Politicians frequently pay lip service to stopping fentanyl overdoses while continuing to prohibit things that could actually stop them or implement policies to make them less likely. The latest example comes from Iowa, where harm reduction kits can’t contain fentanyl test strips. The reason: State law classifies fentanyl test strips as drug paraphernalia, which is illegal… The reason for these bans can be traced back to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Stat explains. Fentanyl test strips are largely illegal “thanks to a bill that most states passed in the late 1970s at the urging of the [DEA]. The law criminalized drug paraphernalia, and included devices that test the contents of illicit substances in that category.” For more on this issue, see this policy analysis from the Cato Institute’s Jeffrey A. Singer and the R Street Institute’s Sophia Heimowitz. As Singer and Heimowitz point out, it’s not just drug testing devices banned under anti-paraphernalia laws but a number of other harm reduction tools, as well. “Some paraphernalia laws restrict people from purchasing or possessing clean needles and syringes, increasing the risk of infection from sharing and reusing those items,” they write. “People risk incarceration if they give out or obtain clean needles and syringes, test strips to check for dangerous additives or contaminants in drugs obtained on the black market, or materials to clean drug use equipment.

Featured Publications