The Alabama Senate Health Committee on Thursday gave a favorable report to legislation making fentanyl testing equipment legal for sale in Alabama.

Senate Bill 168 was sponsored by State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) who chairs the Senate Health Committee.

According to the synopsis, “Under existing law, it is unlawful for a person to use or possess to use drug paraphernalia for the purpose of testing or analyzing a controlled substance. It is unlawful to possess, deliver, or sell testing equipment for the purpose of knowing they will be used to violate the controlled substances law. This bill would remove the prohibition to possess, deliver, or sell testing equipment designed to detect the presence of fentanyl or any synthetic controlled substance fentanyl analogue.”

“I was asked to carry this about by Jefferson County Public Health Officer Mark Wilson,” McClendon said. “What this bill does is allow anyone to have the test strips for fentanyl so that people will at least find out what they are taking.

“Under current law testing equipment for fentanyl is drug paraphernalia,” and thus is illegal to possess, McClendon said.

McClendon explained that drug dealers are lacing many other illegally sold substances with the potent drug, fentanyl.

“I have a little concern about this,” said Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield) said. “They are using the drugs.”

“Yes, they are breaking the law but they can kill themselves without even knowing what they are doing,” McClendon said.

Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) said, “I am not sure exactly what the purpose of this is.”

McClendon said that the purpose of the test strips is to check any substance you may purchase to see if it was contaminated with fentanyl.

Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) said, “There is enough fentanyl coming across the southern border to kill everyone in this country.”

Roberts said that he talked with Wilson and “He thinks it will help some. This is not that much different than the diabetic test strips.”

SB168 received a favorable report on a nine to one vote.

Over 96,700 Americans die from drug overdosesevery year. Opioids, such as fentanyl, are a factor in 7 out of every 10 overdose deaths. Drug overdoses have killed almost a million people since 1999. Drug overdoses have increased over 30 percent since the pandemic began. Some 768 Alabamians died of drug overdoses in the most recent year for which we have numbers. 

SB168 can now be considered by the full Alabama Senate.

Thursday will be day nine of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

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