Fentanyl test strips are no longer illegal in Tennessee. Senate Bill 2427, introduced by State Senator Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, on Feb. 1, was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee on March 31, 2022.
The bill amends T.C.A. §39-17-402, which defines terms such as drug paraphernalia and controlled substance, to exclude narcotic testing equipment used to determine whether a controlled substance contains a synthetic opioid — in this case, fentanyl.
Previously, possession of fentanyl test strips was a Class A misdemeanor and distribution was a Class E felony.
Tennessee Harm Reduction, based in Jackson, TN, has distributed more than 1,500 fentanyl test strips across rural, non-Memphis West Tennessee over the past two years. Hopefully, this legislation will encourage Tennessee’s prevention coalitions, addiction treatment facilities, and syringe services programs to stock these potentially life-saving drug checking devices.
Fentanyl test strips, seen below, produce results within seconds of use. People who use drugs can test their drugs for fentanyl and fentanyl analogues — both of which are detected by fentanyl test strips — by dissolving a small amount of any substance into roughly 5 mL or 10 drops of water, then dipping the strip into the solution.
“For those who aren’t familiar with them, fentanyl test strips work similar to dipstick pregnancy tests — one red line is positive for fentanyl and two red lines is negative,” says Tennessee Harm Reduction founder Daniel Garrett.
Evidence shows that fentanyl test strips are effective in preventing opioid overdose, helping inform people who use drugs whether their drugs contain fentanyl or not. Most opioid overdose fatalities result from inadvertent fentanyl poisoning.
The Cook County Health Department, based in Illinois, offers a video demonstration of how to use fentanyl test strips here.