On Thursday, May 19, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 95 which increases the penalties for the sale and distribution of opioids in Florida, including fentanyl.
The legislation implements the following recommendations that were made by the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Abuse:
- Methamphetamine has been added to the list of specified controlled substances. In the event that the substance causes the death of a person, the individual(s) who distributed the controlled substance can be charged with first degree felony murder.
- The penalties for the sale of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of substance abuse treatment facilities have been enhanced.
- The mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl (4 to 14 grams) has increased from 3 years to 7 years, and the minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl (14 to 28 grams) also increased from 15 to 20 years.
In 2021, the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team investigated several drug trafficking organizations that were responsible for bringing illegal drugs into Marion County. These investigations resulted in 228 individual arrests with charges that ranged from sale and possession of cocaine to trafficking in fentanyl.
According to UDEST, agents seized over $4.5 million worth of illegal drugs in 2021, including 33 pounds of fentanyl and nearly 70 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
“Floridians of all walks of life have witnessed the destruction caused by the opioid epidemic across our state,” said DeSantis. The governor added, “While the Biden administration has failed to stop the flow of dangerous drugs, including fentanyl, across our southern border, we are taking action in Florida to lower both the demand and the supply of illicit and illegal drugs.”