Fentanyl protection measures signed into law, opioid recovery program expanded

by | Apr 8, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Monday enhancing penalties for fentanyl distribution that endangers first responders and expanded Florida’s opioid recovery efforts.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Monday to tighten controls on fentanyl distribution and enhance protections for first responders exposed to the drug while concurrently announcing the expansion of the state’s opioid recovery program.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jay Collins would establish new felony penalties for individuals who recklessly expose emergency personnel to fentanyl and its analogs, if signed into law. According to a legislative analysis, the bill is a response to a growing concern over the risks fentanyl poses to first responders. Scheduled to take effect on October 1, the law would make it a second-degree felony for anyone 18 or older who, while unlawfully in possession of fentanyl, endangers first responders, leading to overdose or serious injury.

“A person 18 years of age or older who, in the course of unlawfully possessing dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogs, recklessly exposes a first responder to dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogs and an overdose or serious bodily injury of the first responder results, commits a felony of the second degree,” the bill reads.

Under the bill’s purview, “expose,” or “exposure” includes ingestion, inhalation, needle stick injury, or absorption through skin mucous membrane.

According to the Department of Health, Florida surpassed 4,000 reported fatal overdose cases in 2022, with the actual number likely much higher, as counties statewide continue to struggle with the introduction of counterfeit opioids.

In parallel, Senate Bill 66 was signed to raise awareness about opioid overdoses and promote the use of Naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdoses, granting the governor the authority to issue an annual proclamation for the designation of June 6th as “Revive Awareness Day.”

“You have situations where when law enforcement personnel are responding to the situations that fentanyl may be involved in, they really are putting themselves at risk,” DeSantis said. “This is not like they have to start popping pills to be affected.”

DeSantis also announced that the CORE network program, the state’s strategy against opioid addiction, is set to expand from its initial 12 counties to 17 more. The program coordinates care for individuals with opioid addiction, linking emergency, treatment, and recovery services to provide a comprehensive approach to recovery.

The counties part of the expansion include Bay County, Broward County, Collier County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Indian River County, Lake County, Lee County, Leon County, Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, Okaloosa County, Orange County, Polk County, Sarasota County, Seminole County, St. Lucie County.

“We will now have a total of 29 core counties in the state of Florida, which will save lives and place Florida at the forefront of combating the opioid epidemic epidemic,” the governor said. “This has made an impact across the state of Florida.”


%d bloggers like this: