Florida GOP Loves Bad Fentanyl Test Strip Ban More Than Lives Of Spring Breakers
On Thursday, six students on spring break in Florida were hospitalized after overdosing on what is being described as "a powder possibly laced with Fentanyl." Four of them have been identified as West Point cadets, one of whom is an Army football player. They're pretty lucky they survived, given that the drug is currently the leading cause of death of Americans age 18 to 45, superseding even COVID-19 over the past two years: 79,000 have died of Fentanyl-related overdoses, while 53,000 have died of COVID-19.
The day after this incident, the Florida House voted against decriminalizing Fentanyl test strips — which, unlike the "powder" consumed by these students, do not in fact contain Fentanyl. They just test for it.
The Democrats in the legislature have been pushing to decriminalize these life-saving test strips since the beginning of the year.
Brandon Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned urged House colleagues to decriminalize the strips, alongside other Democratic lawmakers on the House floor.
“This is a product that doesn’t cause harm in any way,” said Learned, who proposed an amendment to decriminalize the strips. “The only thing it does is reduces harm. The only thing it does is save Floridians by simply telling people whether or not fentanyl exists.”
In the Senate, one Republican legislator argued that the state shouldn't have to legalize the test strips, because kids can just buy them illegally on Amazon — demonstrating that he was able to do so himself.
I never thought coming up here that I'd have to argue against something being illegal because it may implicate the bill sponsor and Chairman of the committee in a crime... Such is life in #FlaPol.https://twitter.com/DeFede/status/1502701844019175426\u00a0\u2026— Rep. Andrew Learned (@Rep. Andrew Learned) 1647115782
On the bright side, the Alabama House actually did approve a bill decriminalizing the test strips this week.
The rationale behind not legalizing the test strips, one would assume, is that people will say "You know what? I really, really want to do this cocaine, but I'm afraid there's Fentanyl in it, so I'm gonna pass!" And sure — that might work for some amount of people. But it's clearly not working enough, otherwise Fentanyl would not be the leading cause of death for people age 18 to 45 in the middle of an actual pandemic.
READ MORE: Free Crack Pipes Are Good, Actually.
We have to stop legislating based on how we wish people operated instead of how they actually operated, because it never works out and it usually ends up hurting the people it's meant to help. If deterrence-based criminal justice worked, the US would be an unbelievably safe country with no drug problems at all, but that is very clearly not the case. It doesn't work and it is frequently extremely expensive. Better to have unsatisfying solutions that actually work than satisfying solutions that don't.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse