Governor Kelly Calls for Decriminalizing Fentanyl Test Strips During Olathe Roundtable Discussion

OLATHE – Today, Governor Laura Kelly participated in a roundtable discussion on the need to decriminalize fentanyl test strips in Kansas. She was joined by healthcare, medical, addiction, and law enforcement professionals, as well as a parent who lost her son to an accidental fentanyl overdose. 

“Experts from nearly every profession, including law enforcement, agree that decriminalizing fentanyl test strips is a commonsense way to prevent overdoses and save lives,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “Communities across our state are hurting. We must join the many states across the country that have made fentanyl test strips and other tools available to prevent exposure to fentanyl long before it kills.”

“As a local sheriff, I take the responsibility of keeping my community safe seriously. A great way to keep our communities safe from deadly fentanyl is by legalizing fentanyl test strips,” said Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister. “Opponents of this life-saving policy must ask themselves: are you afraid these test strips may save a life you disagree with or find little value in saving? Are you willing to stand in front of a mother and tell her that her son’s or daughter’s life was not worth saving?” 

“Decriminalizing fentanyl test strips is essential to our fight in this fentanyl crisis,” said Crystal Tucker, whose 22-year old son Lantz passed away from an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020. “Our only weapon right now in this war is awareness, and it is simply not enough. We have to give people the tools to keep themselves safe against poisoning. This is killing our kids. If this tool had been readily available, my son, Lantz, may still be with us today.” 

“As the rate of opioid-related deaths continues to rise, we owe it to our fellow Kansans to equip them with the necessary tools to make cognizant decisions about their use,” said Kevin Kufeldt, Clinical Director of Addiction Services at Johnson County Mental Health Center. “Fentanyl test strips help a person who uses drugs be more informed, while reducing their risk of overdose and providing them with additional opportunities to seek treatment for their substance use disorder.”

Kansas is one of only a handful of states that has yet to legalize fentanyl test strips. Earlier this year, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Dakota – all led by Republican governors – legalized fentanyl test strips. There is bipartisan support for a similar policy in Kansas. Senate Bill 174 includes language that would decriminalize fentanyl test strips.    

Governor Kelly was also joined by:  

  • Linda Bass, President of KVC Kansas; 
  • Matt Arnet, the Clinical Director of Outpatient Services for KVC Kansas; 
  • Dr. Zijun Wang, an assistant professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Kansas; 
  • Erika Holliday, Substance Use Coordinator at Unified Government Public Health Department;  
  • Dr. Zahra Nasrazadani, an Emergency Medical Clinical Pharmacist at the Salina Regional Health Center; and  
  • Jeff Boss, the Emergency Medical Services Lieutenant the with Johnson County MED-ACT and Chair of the Mid-America Regional Council Emergency Rescue. 

A photo from the event available for media use is below: