Local mother reacts after Kansas governor decriminalizes fentanyl test strips

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 9:04 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - After the governor signed a bill Thursday, fentanyl test strips will be decriminalized in Kansas starting July 1.

Gov. Laura Kelly said it’s one of the first steps for Kansas in the battle against illicit fentanyl and the effort to save lives.

As Mother’s Day approaches, Libby Davis has a hole in her heart and an empty chair at the dinner table.

“Every day is hard. Every holiday is hard. Every time we wake up, there’s that harsh reality that Cooper is not with us,” said Libby Davis, now a fentanyl awareness advocate.

In August of 2021, her son Cooper Davis took half a pill of what he thought was a Percocet. What he had consumed was actually fentanyl.

In 2021, more than 600 Kansans died due to illicit fentanyl. Cooper was one of them.

Recognizing this growing epidemic, Gov. Kelly is legalizing fentanyl test strips. They’re a tool that could have saved Cooper’s life.

“Fentanyl test strips can save lives when they are used appropriately and in the hands of drug users, whether they are chronic drug users or just experimenting with substances,” said Margaux Mueller, Director of First Call Prevention Services. “Because you never know, these days, what you’re getting off the streets.”

Some people question if this enables drug users.

“You can call it what you want but, truly, it’s about keeping someone alive,” said Mueller. “It’s not that we’re encouraging drug use; it’s that we want them to be safe -- if they’re going to use drugs -- while we get them connected with services that could help them.”

While Davis wishes these steps being taken would have come sooner and kept her son here longer, she’s just glad they’re being taken now.

“Cooper should be graduating this month, but doing what we do keeps Cooper close to us,” Davis said.