The Utah Legislature approved a bill intended to reduce fentanyl overdose deaths in the state by decriminalizing the use of fentanyl test strips.
SB86 would remove fentanyl test strips from laws banning the use of drug paraphernalia. The bill is designed to protect drug users from unknowingly ingesting fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid.
Freshman Sen. Jen Plumb, D-Salt Lake City, co-founded Utah Naloxone, an advocacy group that helps distribute kits that can reverse overdoses caused by opioids, prior to being elected to the Senate. SB86 marks her first successful bill in the Legislature.
"As a freshman senator, you hope that you came come in and learn some things and, maybe if you're lucky, have a bill or two that gets some traction," Plumb told reporters Wednesday. "Today I was lucky enough to have the first bill that passed for me, which was one that's really important to me. ... It'll do a lot to help not only save lives but help increase the messaging around knowledge and prevention."
Heather Bush, with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, told a House committee last week that several clinics had reached out saying they were legally barred from purchasing test strips because they are considered paraphernalia. Plumb's bill wouldn't decriminalize the possession of drugs, but it would allow clinics like those to purchase and distribute the tests.
SB86 passed the House unanimously, after passing the Senate with only one vote in opposition.