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2022 Session - Ep. 12, Mitigating the Danger

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Counterfeit pills containing Fentanyl
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Counterfeit pills containing Fentanyl

The 30-day legislative session ended today. That’s it. It’s over. For now. The Governor has the ability to call legislators back to the capitol to tackle particular topics in special sessions. If we hear anything about that you’ll get the message on KUNM and from our media partner New Mexico PBS.

On this #YNMG we’re dedicating the entire episode to one piece of legislation that is now on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk waiting for her signature. House Bill 52 is an amendment to the Harm Reduction Act. Overdoses from Fentanyl are the top killer of young adults in New Mexico, but HB52 will give drug users a new tool that will make them a little safer – fentanyl test strips.

We're not talking to a journalist for this episode. Instead we have Aryan Showers, the Policy Director for New Mexico’s Department of Health, and a champion of harm reduction strategies for combating addiction. For several years NMDOH has been trying to get changes through the legislature to decriminalize possession of fentanyl test strips. They had been classified as drug paraphernalia, and so were legally off-limits to drug users and public health practitioners. That means that even users of other substances, which are now commonly cut with fentanyl, had no way of knowing whether their drugs were more dangerous and more addictive than they bargained for. With no quality control in the illicit market, recreational drug users as well as those with the challenges of addiction wind up hooked and sometimes dead because of fentanyl. The Department of Health and a long list of supporters say HB52, and the fentanyl test strips it decriminalizes, will save lives.

If you have questions or comments for us or our guests, reach out by emailing ynmg@kunm.org.

This public service is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Kaveh Mowahed is a reporter with KUNM who follows government, public health and housing. Send story ideas to kaveh@kunm.org.
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