Evers signs three new Legislation laws to combat rise in fentanyl overdoses

NOW: Evers signs three new Legislation laws to combat rise in fentanyl overdoses

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin just got some new tools to help fight the war on drugs. On March 16, Governor Tony Evers signed three pieces of Legislation to combat a rise in fentanyl overdoses.

If you add Milwaukee County homicides and motor vehicle fatalities, all three combined in 2021 don't add up to the number of people killed in Milwaukee County in 2021 from fentanyl. That's why these new laws are so important.

This is a fentanyl testing strip. It's now legal in Wisconsin and anyone can buy it.

"Fentanyl testing strips give people a chance to change, a chance they didn't have before," said State Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D) of District 8 in Milwaukee.

Her district has the highest number of fentanyl overdoses in the state, that's why she co-authored a bill to help users find out if what they're about to take has fentanyl in it.

"Because quite frankly they had no idea of what they were putting inside of their bodies and they didn't want to die," said Ortiz-Velez.

The problem isn't with legally sold pharmaceuticals, it's the illegal drugs sold online, on social media and on the streets that are being mixed with fentanyl.

"And they're putting it in virtually everything now. They're putting it in heroin, in cocaine, in crack, in pills. They're making fake pills including Adderall. If you don't know what's in it, please do not take it," said Ortiz-Velez.

Governor Evers also signed two additional bills. One sets up a state database to track opioids. The other stiffens the penalties for manufacturing and selling fentanyl.

"It's gonna put more teeth in the law so if you want to go out and you want to manufacture or distribute fentanyl you're gonna be spending some time in prison," said State Senator Van Wanggard (R) of District 21 in Racine.

State Senator Wanggard says the testing strips detect the presence of fentanyl in injectables and powders.

"The amount which is equal to a grain of salt will kill you. I mean I don't know that a lot of people realize this," said Wanggard.

"I understand if you have an addiction, this can help you until you can get the help you need," said Ortiz-Velez.

Now that they're legal, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services plans to hand out 1,600 fentanyl testing strips in the community. Last year, 79% of all drug overdose deaths in Milwaukee County were from fentanyl.

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