On April 20, the Florida House passed a bill that would put synthetic drugs, including fentanyl, in the same category as heroin when it comes to drug trafficking. Furthermore, the bill includes a provision that if a person dies of a drug overdose, the person who sold the drugs can be charged with murder. Possessing 10 or more grams of some synthetic drugs will become a felony.

As part of another bill, pharmacies will be required to make daily rather than weekly reports to a state database about dispensing a controlled substance. The state is currently dealing with an opioid epidemic, and from 2013 to 2014, deaths related to fentanyl went up 115 percent. However, it is also expected that some of the new laws will lead to an increase in the prison population.

Gov. Rick Scott has called for workshops in the three counties that are struggling with the highest incidence of opioid abuse. It is hoped that this and other initiatives, including a cost reduction for a spray that can revive people who have overdosed, will bring the numbers of overdoses and opioid abusers down.

People who are facing drug crime charges, whether they are related to fentanyl or other synthetic drugs, may want to consult an attorney about their situation. Punishments can be severe, and other areas of a person’s life may be affected as well. For example, if they work in education, they might lose their job even if their sentence is not particularly harsh. An attorney might be able to identify a number of ways to handle the defense. A legal substance might have been confused for illegal drugs, or a person might have been searched illegally. A plea bargain might be another option.

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