The state of Florida has taken steps to create penalties for those in possession of fentanyl. The legislation extends to many types of synthetic drugs, and will subject dealers to murder charges in cases where their product caused fatal overdoses.
Governor Rick Scott signed the bill yesterday, nearly two months after declaring a state of emergency in Florida due to the ongoing opioid epidemic. The bill will take effect on October 1.
The fentanyl crisis in Florida has been widely documented, particularly in the counties of Manatee and Palm Beach. The drug, which is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, carries significant and dangerous risks of addiction.
First responders across the state of Florida and beyond have been overwhelmed in recent months by the scope and severity of overdoses. Synthetic opioids have been known to masquerade as other drugs, and can contain compounds that are even resistant to naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote.
With many states across the nation moving to sue pharmaceutical companies for their role in the national health crisis, could Florida be next?
After a 22.7% percent increase in opioid overdose deaths in Florida from 2014 to 2015 (CDC), it is clear that further action must be taken.
Treatment must continue to be made available, and there must be a sense of compassionate urgency with which we can address those who are suffering. Opioids have devastated countless lives, and it is only through the proper treatment and healing that we can make progress in the midst of a shocking epidemic.
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