As the opioid epidemic rages throughout Florida and many other parts of the U.S., Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill into law that will mandate harsher penalties for people convicted of possessing at least four grams of fentanyl. The law goes into effect on Oct. 1 of this year.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Even touching or breathing it can be fatal. It is particularly deadly if taken with heroin. Nearly 900 people died from overdoses of the drug last year in Florida alone. It’s also the drug that killed music icon Prince last year.
The law is targeted at those who distribute and traffic the drug.
- Those convicted of having four grams will face a mandatory three-year prison sentence.
- If caught with 14 grams, that increases to 15 years behind bars.
- Anyone possessing 28 grams is looking at a minimum 25-year term.
- If someone dies from an overdose, the person who that person the drug can be charged with murder.
At a signing ceremony for the new law in West Palm Beach, Gov. Scott said, “Right now, we are still figuring out the right thing to do.” He added, “I know this community has just been devastated by it.”
As drugs become stronger and more lethal, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and lawmakers will no doubt continue to seek stiffer penalties for drug crimes. If you or someone you love is facing drug charges, it’s essential to seek experienced legal guidance from an attorney who can help work to mitigate the impact of the charges and perhaps to seek treatment options as an alternative to incarceration.