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.
Fentanyl test strips, seen below, produce results within seconds of use. People who use drugs can test their drugs for fentanyl and fentanyl analogs by dissolving a small amount of any substance into shot glass of water, then dipping the strip into the solution. Fentanyl test strips work similar to dipstick pregnancy tests — one red line is positive for fentanyl and two red lines is negative.
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 involve inadvertent fentanyl poisoning.
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.
Update (October 29, 2022): During the summer months of 2022, we began hearing rumors that the Tennessee Department of Health would begin distributing fentanyl test strips through Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists and Syringe Services Programs. Although at least two news reports — one from August, another from October — have claimed that the state’s FTS distribution efforts had begun, it’s not clear if they’re actually being distributed yet or not.
Live in Tennessee and Need Fentanyl Test Strips?
Tennessee Harm Reduction, based in Jackson, TN, has distributed more than 2,000 fentanyl test strips across rural, non-Memphis West Tennessee over the past two years — we started long before the Volunteer State decriminalized them!
If you’re interested in getting some for yourself and live in Tennessee, you’re in luck. Even if you’re unable to visit our West Tennessee syringe exchange in person, you may be eligible to receive supplies from us via mail. Learn more about getting free fentanyl test strips from us by visiting How to Request Supplies.
As of October 2022, we stock fentanyl test strips from WiseBatch. Their website offers video demonstrations, infographics, and other guides on using fentanyl test strips to improve your safety while using drugs.