Legalizing Fentanyl Testing Strips
Overdose deaths from opioids are reaching levels unseen since 2015 due to an increased flow of fentanyl into New Hampshire. It is more important than ever for New Hampshire to adopt evidence-based harm reduction strategies to save lives.
Harm reduction is rooted in evidence-based practices and incorporates a spectrum of strategies including safer techniques, managed use, and abstinence to promote the dignity and well-being of people who use drugs. In New Hampshire, the Syringe Service Program provides sterile supplies, safe disposal, Narcan, support, and referrals to those in need.
However, drug testing kits like fentanyl testing strips are illegal to possess in New Hampshire despite being a proven harm reduction tool. Fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in all different kinds of drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, etc.) and drug forms (pills, powder, and injectables). Recent reporting in New Hampshire indicates that fentanyl is routinely mixed with non-opioid drugs.
A 2023 House bill (HB 287), would remove testing equipment from the definition of drug paraphernalia. Another earlier House bill (HB 470) would remove fentanyl testing strips and other drug testing kits from the definition of drug paraphernalia and legalize drug testing equipment as well.
New Futures supports both bills. Drug testing kits such as fentanyl test strips are a proven strategy that can save lives. Testing strips were specifically designed to prevent overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, FTSs “are a low-cost method of helping prevent drug overdoses and reducing harm.”
HB 287 has passed both the House and the Senate and was amended to include the legalization of xylazine testing strips in addition to fentanyl testing strips. It was signed into law by Governor Sununu in August 2023!
HB 470 had a public hearing before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Following an executive session, the Committee retained HB 470. This means they can work on the bill over the summer and reintroduce it in 2024.