WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Some users may be using fentanyl test strips to determine if what they are consuming contains the potentially lethal drug.
These test strips are considered drug paraphernalia by the Kansas legislature. They are illegal in our state. However, some law enforcement agencies will not charge people for having them in their possession. Chief of Hutchinson police Jeffrey Hooper says there is a bigger picture.
“If we have an end-user that has fentanyl test strips in their possession so they can test it with the intent to save their life, we don’t intend to charge them with possession of drug paraphernalia or to write that up and send it up for prosecution,” said Hooper.
Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says his department also won’t pursue charges. “What I have put off to our staff is that if we come into contact with people that have the fentanyl strips, we’ll need to take them. We’ll make a case, but we’re not going to arrest them and book them,” mentioned Easter.
District Attorney Marc Bennett said the only way he can take cases is if they come through the door. “If this is not going to be a priority for the police department or the sheriff, then we won’t be presenting them, and if they don’t present, we don’t have a case. If somebody decides to bring in a truckload of these things and sell them, and the cops will make a case, we’ll take a look at it,” said Bennett.
The bottom line for Hooper and Easter: protecting the community.
“We don’t want to stand in the way of something that could potentially save someone’s life. But are we going to go out there, at least from my point of view, am I going to go out there and tout the strips? No,” added Easter.
“I certainly understand that the practice of taking illegal narcotics is illegal, and I don’t condone that, but I value human life,” concluded Hooper.
Sheriff Easter claimed he and his officers have yet to come across any fentanyl test strips. However, he says if the strips are found in plain view, it does give officers probable cause to search for illegal substances.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, click here to find help.