COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lawmakers in Ohio are looking into giving drug users access to tools they say could prevent an accidental overdose.
Senate Bill 296 would change the drug paraphernalia law, removing legal barriers and giving wider access to Naloxone, a medication that reverses an opioid overdose, as well as making fentanyl test strips more readily available.
Co-sponsors of the bill, Senators Nathan Manning, and Steve Huffman, said fentanyl test strips "have proven to be accessible, easy to use and effective, detecting the presence of fentanyl almost 100% of the time.”
The President of Harm Reduction Ohio, Dennis Cauchon, reports that 11% of cocaine and 5% of meth in Ohio is laced with fentanyl. While the percentages might not seem large, Cauchon said it is causing avoidable deaths and believes test strips would help reduce the number of accidental overdoses due to fentanyl.
Bars and restaurants across the state of Ohio are making sure their staff is ready for anything when it comes to substance abuse.
“If you have worked in the bar and restaurant industry long enough, you are going to have come across at multiple points in time people overdosing,” said Jeremy Moore, owner of Over-the-Rhine in Somerset near Cincinnati.
Moore had his staff trained recently in administering Narcan. If a customer needs a test strip, bar staff can provide some.
“It is a reality of our world,” Moore said. “Bars and restaurants are going to be dealing with a wide variety of demographics and people of all walks of life. Being accepting of that but also mindful of how best to put people in a position of safety.”
Moore worked with Noam Barnard, the executive director of Coalition for Community Safety, to train his staff to save lives.
“Nobody wants to have someone die in the bathroom of their bar,” Barnard said. “This is something that your security at the front door may not be able to stop. It might be something that they took before they got there, who knows what’s going on
Senate Bill 296 has already had two hearings. Now it’s heading to a committee vote, which could take several weeks. If passed, it would go to the House for a final vote.
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