"This study also demonstrates that available technologies fail to fully meet the needs of drug checking programs. As legal avenues for drug checking services expand, additional resources at the local, state, and federal levels should be directed towards the improvement of portable spectrometry devices and other technologies that might be useful for drug checking. The organization included in this study, and the broader drug checking peer-network in which they participate, has already made enormous advancements in the use of these devices for community drug checking [47]. Dedicated and well-resourced efforts to leverage that expertise and advance existing technologies could quickly bring drug checking out of its proverbial “Bronze Age.”

"The cost of acquiring and using this technology is one that many harm reduction organizations cannot manage. The 26-billion-dollar global settlement from opioid litigation will soon be distributed to cities and counties across the United States, creating unprecedented opportunity to invest in high-demand, high-impact interventions like community drug checking. As states are developing their global settlement spending plans [48], numerous experts have urged state leaders to dedicate that funding toward the support of essential harm reduction services, including drug checking [49]. Further, as portable spectroscopy devices perform the same function as fentanyl test strips, but do so more expansively, there is a strong rationale to expand the use of federal funds to include both fentanyl test strips and other drug checking equipment. These instruments are often purchased for forensic reasons and maintained by law enforcement and forensic laboratories. Support for their purchase, use, and extension to public health and harm reduction realms would be a way for HHS to explicitly support community drug checking."


Carroll, J.J., Mackin, S., Schmidt, C. et al. The Bronze Age of drug checking: barriers and facilitators to implementing advanced drug checking amidst police violence and COVID-19. Harm Reduct J 19, 9 (2022). doi.org/10.1186/s12954-022-00590-z