LAKELAND, FL — Minimum mandatory sentences for selling fentanyl in Florida were increased Thursday from three years to seven years when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 95 - Controlled Substance bill at Lakeland Fire Rescue station.
The penalty can escalate to at least 20 years when criminals sell even greater amounts. The DeSantis administration touted the law as a way to get Florida's opioid epidemic under control.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid reported to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Its potency has led to a wave of overdose deaths nationwide; and fentanyl is so strong that first responders who come into contact with the drug when they respond to overdoses can then overdose.
"We're going to do all we can to decrease the prevalence of fentanyl in Florida and that means if you're dealing fentanyl, you are killing people, and you're going to be put in jail," DeSantis said, according to WTSP.
Florida's new law also makes it a felony of first-degree murder if the distribution of methamphetamine results in a person's death. If the sale of a controlled substance is committed within 1,000 feet of a substance abuse treatment facility, the penalties are increased there, as well."The bill enhances the penalties for selling controlled substances within 1,000 feet of substance abuse treatment facilities," DeSantis told reporters. "Drug dealers are increasingly lacing other drugs with fentanyl, and we've seen it in a wide variety of substances."
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma spoke at the news conference supporting CS/HB 95 - Controlled Substance prior to DeSantis signing the bill.
"If there's people that wonder what a deadly dose of fentanyl is," Judd said holding up a picture comparing how much is needed to a penny, "this is it — 2 milligrams. And 116 people in Polk County last year died from just this small amount of fentanyl."
According to the data collected by LIVE Tampa Bay, the region has some of the highest rates of opioid overdoses in the country. An estimated 1,540 people died of opioid overdoses in the Tampa Bay region in 2020 — a 49.6-percent increase since 2019.
That's higher than the state and national averages, 10 Tampa Bay said.
Related: 5 West Point Cadets Overdose On Fentanyl On Florida Trip: Police