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Mom fighting to make fentanyl test strips more accessible in Washington

The strips are considered drug paraphernalia meaning they're currently illegal to possess.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Can a vending machine save a life?

A parent who lost her daughter to a fentanyl overdose thinks so, and she's trying to change state law to make fentanyl test strips more accessible. 

When Allisone McClanahan was little, she used to give her allowance away to the homeless. 

"She was the champion of the underdog," said her mother, Genevieve Schofield.

Schofield said Allisone struggled with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. In 2021, the 26-year-old died from an overdose after a friend gave her what she thought was oxycodone, but turned out to be fentanyl.

"She loved life and had she known that this is a possibility, that one pill could take her life, she would not have taken that pill, I know that," Schofield said.

Schofield wants to turn her daughter's tragedy into a lesson, so she contacted lawmakers about a potential way to save lives: fentanyl test strips.

The strips can detect traces of deadly fentanyl, but the state of Washington considers the strips drug paraphernalia, so they're illegal to possess. Only two clinics in the state are allowed to disperse them, Peer Seattle and Peer Kent.

Peer Kent started offering the strips, along with Narcan for overdoses, in vending machines for free last year. The program director says the kits have prevented overdoses, likely saving lives. Allison's Law would allow the distribution of the strips across the state.

Allisone's mother says her daughter still gives her strength.

"I can feel her now. She's right on here with her hand on me," Schofield  said."She was a huge agent of change, and I just want that to continue." 

If the bill passes this year, Schofield pledges to go back to Olympia next year to get another law passed that would require vending machines with test strips placed in hospitals, hotels and schools. 

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