Publication Date: 
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Non-methadone synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths have been increasing exponentially in recent years. This is driven by the increased presence of drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and increasingly xylazine, added to opioids. The addition of such drugs can make it difficult for individuals who use drugs to do so safely, which increases the risk of overdose and overdose deaths. One way to help prevent overdoses due to these adulterants is to use drug checking products, such as fentanyl test strips, that can effectively identify the presence of dangerous additives in drug supplies. Research shows that people who inject drugs who check their drugs and have a positive fentanyl test result were much more likely to use safely.  In particular, individuals who were aware of the presence of fentanyl and other added drugs in their supplies were significantly more likely to use smaller amounts of the drug or to use it more slowly.   

State laws can make it difficult for people who use drugs to access drug checking equipment, such as fentanyl test strips because they may be labeled as objects related to illicit drugs, or drug paraphernalia, and in states where that occurs, possession and distribution of drug paraphernalia is often prohibited by state law.  

This cross-sectional dataset provides an overview of state drug paraphernalia laws, focusing on how drug paraphernalia laws address access to drug checking equipment in all 50 states and the District of Columbia as of November 1, 2023. Features examined here include whether certain acts related to drug paraphernalia, including but not limited to possession and distribution; what civil or criminal penalties exist; how syringes or objects used to inject drugs are included in existing law; and whether drug checking equipment meant to prevent overdose are explicitly excluded from the definition of drug paraphernalia.    

These data were created with support from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE).