PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020 which is nearly a 30% increase from the prior year.
That problem led Dean Shold and his partner Alison Heller to develop FentCheck — a testing strip that alerts you if a drug is laced with fentanyl.
It’s already available in several locations in California’s bay area, the UC Berkely campus and one bar in Portland — Star Bar. The company wants to expand even further but some antiquated legislation is holding up the process.
Shold says a drug paraphernalia law considers the fentanyl testing strips paraphernalia, but the passing of Measure 110 almost contradicts that.
Measure 110 includes a section that would expand addiction treatment and services saying:
“Grants must be provided to increase access to at least one of the following services, “harm reduction interventions including, but not limited to, overdose prevention education, access to naloxone hydrochloride and sterile syringes, and stimulant specific drug education and outreach.”
This is in relation to addiction recovery.
Shold said they need the backing of local governments before they’ll be able to expand, but this text makes it awkward and clumsy to go about doing that.
“With Measure 110 you can now keep up to 2 grams of cocaine which may have fentanyl in it that you don’t know about. If you take it and you overdose then somebody can use Narcan on you, but you can’t actually test it to stop you from overdosing,” said Shold.
“I don’t think you’ll find anyone on our end who would charge someone who uses strips as protection against fentanyl,” a spokesperson with Portland police said.
Shold said he hopes during the 2022-2023 regular session they can bring that before the state and clear up any confusion.
Until they can get that federal backing, however, Shold says they need volunteers to help spread FentCheck strips and the word.