Fentanyl strips decriminalized in Hawaii



(The Center Square) – Fentanyl strips are no longer considered drug paraphernalia in Hawaii.

Gov. Josh Green signed a bill that removed the strips from the Controlled Substances Act.

“As a state, we need to be compassionate and focus on harm reduction,” Green said. “It is important to legalize fentanyl test strips, because fentanyl is 80 times more powerful than morphine, and it’s being laced into other drugs and people are dying. If we can save lives, we should.”

Seventy-four opioid-related overdoses were reported in 2021, according to the Hawaii Department of Health information. Fifty of those overdoses involved synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, the DOH said.

The bill was one of 13 health care-related bills signed by Green on Thursday. Senate Bill 674 is one of the significant pieces of legislation signed. It allows Hawaii to enter the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. The move will make it easier for physicians licensed elsewhere to practice in Hawaii.

“Our state continues to experience a shortage of healthcare professionals, especially in our rural communities,” Green said. “This bill will help ensure adequate care and health care access for all, not just some.”

House Bill 907 approves reimbursement for audio-only behavioral telehealth services in remote areas where broadband may not be available. It will expire on Dec. 31, 2025.

“HB 907 represents a huge step forward in our effort to extend access to behavior health services to our rural and vulnerable communities, especially here on the Big Island,” said Hawaii Island Community Health Center CEO Richard Taaffe. “The new law will allow our behavioral practitioners to use audio-only technology to reach patients struggling with isolation, anxiety, depression, addiction and who would not otherwise seek care.”

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