Fentanyl test strips remain illegal in Texas after a bill to decriminalize them was not included in a handful of laws Gov. Greb Abbott signed to fight the fentanyl crisis, The Dallas Morning News reports. Research has shown the strips to be highly effective at detecting opioids, yet the bill died in the Texas senate after some lawmakers said legalizing the strips would give people more confidence to abuse drugs. A proposal to legalize the strips passed the Texas House with overwhelming bipartisan support in May. Most strips on the market in 2021 ranged between 96% and 100% accuracy. Abbott has not said if he will ask the Legislature to decriminalize the strips in an upcoming special or regular session. The strips cost a few dollars each. In states where they’re legal, they are available in vending machines, convenience stores and community health centers — sometimes for free. They can be bought on websites such as DanceSafe, BunkPolice and Amazon.
State after state has decriminalized the strips since 2018; close to 40 states have legalized the strips so far. The strips detect fentanyl only in the tested portion of the drugs. It’s possible to test a portion that does not contain fentanyl while the rest contains a potentially lethal amount. It’s commonly called the “chocolate chip cookie effect” and it’s why public health experts warn the tests are not foolproof. Their illegality dates back to a model law from the 1970s by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which classified as illegal anything linked to taking or making banned substances. In July, a group of bipartisan senators in Congress filed legislation to remove the test strips from federal drug paraphernalia statute. U.S. Reps. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, and Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, filed a similar bill in the House of Representatives.