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The Opioid Crisis and New Tough Laws Against Dealers

At the height of the "pill mill" crisis in Florida, we saw an increase in dependency and deaths related to opioid addiction, primarily addition to certain prescribed painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and morphine. Florida was ground zero for the consumption and black market of these drugs. Otherwise law-abiding citizens were caught up in the illegal sale and consumption of dangerous prescribed painkillers, constantly seeking the euphoric high associated with these drugs.

These days, deaths related to the abuse of painkillers have decreased statewide, however we are facing a new danger and level of drug abuse. The fentanyl crisis in the state of Florida is reaching new heights. Opioid addiction throughout the state did not decrease with the rate of the use of painkillers, but simply moved on to the use of more powerful opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil, which are 100x and 1,000x more powerful than heroin, another opioid that is seeing a rise in abuse. Victims of these drugs can be users, abusers, or unsuspecting bystanders who simply come in contact with a deadly dose.

10-Year Old Killed by Fentanyl

In June of this year, a 10-year-old boy from Overtown began vomiting after an afternoon playing in a neighborhood pool. By the evening that day, he was unconscious and later died at the hospital. Early toxicology reports show that fentanyl was in his system. It was not initially suspected that he came in contact with the drug in the home where he lived, but it is possible that he came in contact with it while playing outside of the home. Fentanyl is strong enough that just a speck breathed in or absorbed by contact with the skin could be fatal, putting many unsuspecting minors at risk of sickness or death by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Deaths Related to Opioids

Florida may have had more deaths by synthetic opioids in 2016 than at the height of the pill mill crisis. The Florida Medical Examiner's Commission stated that there were more than 850 deaths due to these drugs in the first half of 2016, more than any other drug.

Tough New Laws in Florida

Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law Florida House Bill 477 which places tough mandatory minimum sentences for opioid dealers. Beginning on October 1, of this year, judges are bound to give mandatory minimum sentences to people caught with fentanyl and carfentanil. Four grams has a minimum of three years in prison; 14 grams will get a dealer 15 years behind bars; and 28 grams will equal 25 years in prison. A synthetic opioid dealer could also be charged with homicide if a fatal dose is sold.

Painkiller and opioid addiction can ruin lives, tear apart families, and will soon guarantee prison time for those caught selling the drugs. If you are accused of a crime associated with prescription drug sales or abuse, it's important that you contact an experienced defense attorney. You attorney will help you understand the laws and procedures for your case.

References:

Haden, P. (n.d.). Florida Governor Scott Signs Tough Fentanyl Law In West Palm Beach. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://wlrn.org/post/florida-governor-scott-signs-tough-fentanyl-law-west-palm-beach

Ovalledovalle@miamiherald.com, D. (n.d.). A 10-year-old Miami boy may be latest - and among youngest - victim of opioid crisis. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article161838143.html

E. (2017, July 12). Heroin deaths down in Central Florida; fentanyl deaths up, officials say. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://www.wftv.com/news/local/heroin-deaths-down-in-central-florida-fentanyl-deaths-up-officials-say/558253231

Tallahassee, M. A. (2017, July 11). As Florida's opioid crisis worsens, what are state officials doing? Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://www.nrtoday.com/as-florida-s-opioid-crisis-worsens-what-are-state-officials/article_16ae4fcd-6946-5323-9b0c-e8fb07812f9e.html

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