Emily’s Hope helps to advocate for legalization of fentanyl testing strips in SD

PIERRE, S.D. –- South Dakota legalized fentanyl testing strips after the state legislature passed House Bill 1041. Advocates, including Angela Kennecke, founder of Emily’s Hope, testified in favor of the bill, which makes an exception to state drug-paraphernalia laws to allow for the use of the strips. Kennecke shared her personal experience of losing her daughter to fentanyl poisoning and emphasized the potentially life-saving benefits of the testing strips.

Melissa Dittberner, a University of South Dakota Addiction Studies Professor and board member of Emily’s Hope, also testified in support of the bill, noting that harm-reduction techniques like fentanyl testing strips can help keep people alive long enough to seek help for addiction. Tiffany Thoelke, a mother and university student, also spoke in favor of the bill, citing the cost-effectiveness and accuracy of the testing strips as a life-saving prevention measure.

South Dakota has seen a dramatic increase in overdose deaths since 2012, with 104 deaths reported in 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends fentanyl testing strips as a low-cost method to prevent overdoses. Fentanyl testing strips are now legal in more than 30 states. 

The bill received bi-partisan support and was sponsored by Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt and Democratic Sen. Reynold Nesiba. It passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming support and was signed into law by Governor Kristi Noem on February 22, 2023. Emily’s Hope is currently developing a plan to distribute fentanyl testing strips where they are needed.