Governor Kelly Signs Bipartisan Bill to Decriminalize Fentanyl Test Strips in Kansas

~~Keeps State of the State Promise to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Kansas~~ 

SHAWNEE – Today, Governor Laura Kelly joined legislators and advocates in Shawnee to sign Senate Bill 174, a bipartisan bill that decriminalizes fentanyl test strips. Decriminalizing test strips, which can detect the presence of fentanyl in other substances, will help prevent overdose deaths in Kansas. 

“Overdoses caused by fentanyl have devastated communities across Kansas and the nation,” Governor Kelly said. “By decriminalizing fentanyl test strips, we are providing the resources needed to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic so that families and loved ones no longer have to feel the pain of a preventable death.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100,000 people died in 2021 from a drug overdose, the most ever recorded in a single year in U.S. history. 

2023 marks the third year a bill has been introduced in the Kansas Legislature to decriminalize fentanyl test strips. In 2022, the bill passed unanimously in the House but stalled in the Senate. This legislation has continuously had support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. 

“Today, with the signing of SB 174, Kansas is putting into action the values of kindness, compassion, and love for our neighbors,” Representative Jason Probst said (D-Hutchinson). “By decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips, we are helping Kansans protect themselves from a deadly poison that has taken far too many lives – including the tragic and profoundly painful loss of far too many teenagers and young adults in our state.” 

“The fentanyl epidemic is devastating our communities. Senate Bill 174 represents our first steps in working together to fight this terrible drug,” Rep. Stephen Owens (R-Hesston) said. “I am proud to stand with Governor Kelly as we continue to work together to save lives.” 

Governor Kelly has also taken other measures to help prevent drug overdoses in Kansas. She has made historic investments to give law enforcement the resources to seek out criminals pushing illegal drugs on children. She has also given schools the funding the need to have naloxone on hand. 

SB 174 also increases criminal penalties for manufacturing or distributing fentanyl and for committing battery against a healthcare provider.   

Kansans looking for substance use treatment and recovery services are encouraged to use state services available here

A photo from today’s event for media use is below: