- State leaders met on Thursday to discuss preventative drug overdose measures following a spike in deaths last weekend
- Gadsden County experienced 19 fentanyl overdoses over the course of four days, nearly matching 2021’s total of 20 across the entire year
- Law Enforcement claims that through investigation the bulk of drugs entering Florida originate in Mexico
- A series of responses are in order, including a potential task force, a multimillion-dollar media campaign, and the enforcing of new legislation
A consortium of Florida’s top leaders met to discuss drug prevention strategies in Gadsden County on Thursday following a rash of fentanyl overdoses including the death of nine people over the span of four days. The influx of counterfeit drugs, claimed to have originated from the southern border, has led to a fatal overdose count statewide that comes close to matching 2021’s total number in just seven months.
State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young, Interim Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Mark Glass, and Secretary of the Department of Children and Families Shevaun Harris collectively brought attention to the influx of counterfeit drugs entering Florida at an increased rate compared to prior years. Through investigation, the group stated that the drugs collectively originate south of the border before being shipped to hub cities like Atlanta, then filtering its way to communities in North Florida.
Glass claimed that 30 percent of drugs going through lab testing protocols return counterfeit, indicating that a higher concentration of drugs entering communities poses an even larger threat to public health and safety.
“Friday when I left here that afternoon, fentanyl was not in my vocabulary,” said Sheriff Young. “We were afraid we’d wake up in a week’s time with 30,40,50 people dead.”
In response to what is locally being referred to as a fentanyl overdose crisis, Gadsden County police officers are receiving training in Narcan administration, a prescription medication used to treat opioid overdoses, when medically necessary. Young announced during the roundtable that the Gadsden Law Enforcement Office now possesses 300 units of Narcan, and will permit officers to carry doses of the medicine for their own safety as well as the safety of those at risk.
Young also verbally confirmed to The Capitolist that on July 28, leaders will meet in order to discuss the creation of a new task force team for future drug overdose prevention in Gadsden County. Young did not, however, detail whether the group would be internal within his Police Department or administrated through state resources.
First Lady DeSantis announced that her ‘The Facts. Your Future.’ campaign launched in January will begin a multimillion-dollar media campaign in coordination with Tobacco Free Florida that targets Florida’s youth in bringing awareness to the dangers of drugs. The program directly engages youth in Florida to improve their understanding of the effects of drug abuse.
The ‘School Assemblies Toolkit’ provides schools with free content to engage in Florida’s The Facts. Your Future. initiative through interactive, hands-on elements that can be incorporated throughout the school year. The toolkit contains materials such as fact sheets, conversation maps, and a school assembly template to guide schools in hosting their own events. Schools are encouraged to partner with local law enforcement and others in their communities to host dynamic, multimedia assemblies that will share real-life scenarios and science-based facts about substance abuse.
“With the heartbreaking overdose death statistics we’re witnessing across the country, and as a mom of three, I want Florida’s youth to know they have the power to resist and overcome drug use and abuse,” said DeSantis. “Our The Facts. Your Future. initiative is reinventing the way substance abuse prevention is taught in our schools. It’s not “Just Say No” — it’s “Just Say No and Here’s Why.” Together with community partners, schools can use this toolkit to give kids proper context and perspective on the dangers of drug use.”
The group also touted the revised legislation of House Bill 95, set to go into effect on October 1, which restructures the qualifications for what can be deemed first-degree murder. Through the revision, drug dealers that provide narcotics that lead to death can be charged with murder, leading to harsher sentencing.