All Texas police departments will be eligible to receive Narcan, an overdose reversal medication, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sept. 6.

What you need to know

Local law enforcement, independent school district police and police at higher education institutions can get a portion of 60,000 units of Narcan, according to a news release.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management will distribute the medication to police departments, which are eligible to receive a certain amount based on the size and population of their counties.

Law enforcement agencies can request Narcan through the State of Texas Assistance Request portal, the release said.

In April, TDEM released 20,000 units of Narcan to county sheriffs’ offices. The initiative is part of Abbott’s “One Pill Kills” campaign, which launched in October 2022.

“Fentanyl remains the single deadliest drug threat Texas and our nation have ever seen, with five Texans losing their lives every day,” Abbott said in the release. “With this next allotment of Narcan, Texas can help ensure that every Texas community—including our schools—has this [life-saving] medication.”

Narcan is a nasal spray used to reverse an overdose caused by opioids—such as fentanyl, heroin, morphine and more—in minutes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of the medication in March.

In Texas, funding to provide Narcan to law enforcement comes from multiple settlements with opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, Abbott said.

Legislative approach

Following this year’s regular legislative session, the governor signed five bills aimed at tackling the fentanyl crisis.

Senate Bill 629 will require public middle and high schools to store Narcan and train staff to administer it. Similarly, SB 867 orders the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to provide colleges and universities with Narcan.

House Bill 3908, known as Tucker’s Law, directs school districts to teach sixth-12th grade students about fentanyl abuse, drug overdoses and more each year. The law is named after Tucker Roe, a 19-year-old from Leander who died after taking a fentanyl-laced pill in 2021.

Roe’s mother, Stefanie Turner, said during a June 14 bill-signing ceremony she blames a “lack of knowledge” about the dangers of fentanyl for taking her son’s life. Turner is the founder of Texas Against Fentanyl, an organization that raises awareness about the drug.

“While Tucker’s Law is named in honor of my son, it isn’t for my son,” Turner said. “It’s for every living son and daughter. It’s a law that was created to help protect other children from having to experience the struggle that Tucker did and ultimately prevent other parents from having to live in grief.”

Abbott also signed HB 3144, which designates October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month in Texas.

Under HB 6, if a medical examiner finds a lethal amount of fentanyl in someone’s system and determines the drug caused their death, “homicide” must be listed as the manner of death. Prosecutors could then charge drug dealers with murder for manufacturing or distributing fentanyl.

This applies to deaths that occurred or were discovered after the bill became law on Sept. 1, officials said in June.

What else?

Legislation to legalize fentanyl test strips, which is supported by the governor, did not become law this year. HB 362, which would have decriminalized strips used to safely check if other drugs are laced with fentanyl, stalled in the Texas Senate after gaining bipartisan approval in the House.

Because test strips are considered drug paraphernalia, anyone who uses or distributes them can be charged with a misdemeanor.

This type of legislation will not likely be considered during an upcoming special legislative session. Abbott said he will call a special session to discuss school funding and “school choice”—the use of state money to send children to private schools—in October.