By Sharon Aron Baron
In an effort to combat the worsening opioid epidemic in Florida, State Senator Tina Polsky and State Representative Christine Hunschofsky have filed bills to decriminalize the use of Fentanyl test strips.
Fentanyl test strips, a low-cost method of preventing drug overdoses, have been shown to be effective in reducing the harm caused by the drug.
According to recently released CDC data, opioids are responsible for nine out of 10 teenage deaths, with fentanyl being the most common opioid involved. Many of these deaths are caused by counterfeit prescription pills that contain the potent opioid, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin.
“The law should have been changed last session, but now we have a chance to do the right thing this year and save lives,” said Sen. Polsky, who represents Parkland. “It’s past time that our state join the 22 other states that have adopted similar laws.”
Representative Hunschofsky added, “At a time when we are experiencing a record number of deaths due to fentanyl-laced drugs, it is imperative that we do all we can to prevent future deaths. By legalizing fentanyl test strips in the State of Florida, we are taking a common-sense approach and adding another tool in the harm reduction toolbox that we know will save lives.”
Support for the measure has been widespread, with Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg stating, “You can’t arrest your way out of an opioid epidemic. Harm reduction is an important part of the solution. This good bill is an easy and inexpensive way to save many lives.” Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the Florida Medical Association also support the measure.
Beth Weinstock, M.D., Executive Director of BirdieLight, an organization founded after her 19-year-old son died from accidental fentanyl ingestion.
“I can’t help but think that if he’d had access at the time to fentanyl education as well as life-saving test strips, he would be alive today, as would thousands of other young people across our country who have succumbed to this massive public health crisis.”
- Sharon Aron Baron is a Parkland resident and editor of Talk Media. She has been covering Parkland news since 2012. Parkland Talk was created to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Parkland.
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