House ready to vote on new drug overdose law

Money in medical field
'In each of these tragedies, a drug dealer has made a profit off the pain of Florida families.'

The House took up a sweeping bill Tuesday that would revamp Florida’s drug laws.

Primarily, the bill (HB 95) would broaden a prosecutor’s ability to pursue a first-degree murder charge if a drug overdose leads to a person’s death.

Under current law, a drug dealer may face the death penalty — or life in prison — if they sell a controlled substance that verifiably caused the death of a consumer.

Prosecutors, however, often struggle with cases involving multiple controlled substances or alcohol.

Sponsored by Longwood Republican Sen. Scott Plakon, the bill would allow authorities to levy a life sentence if a controlled substance is instead considered a “substantial factor” in a person’s death.

“In each of these tragedies, a drug dealer has made a profit off the pain of Florida families,” Plakon told members.

Plakon’s proposal contains a slew of other provisions.

The bill calls for drug dealers to face stiffer punishments if they’re caught selling a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of an abuse treatment center.

Critics on Tuesday lamented the preferred buffer zone as arbitrary. They further asserted the buffer may be too large in densely populated areas.

Plakon said he is unwilling to request a shorter radius, as suggested by Democratic lawmakers.

“No one is forcing them to deal death to our citizens,” Plakon added.

The bill also would add methamphetamine to the list of prosecutable controlled substances. In 2020, officials recorded 1,273 methamphetamine overdose deaths in Florida.

Plakon said the bill aims to “clarify” and “modernize” state law.

“By this time tomorrow, more than a dozen Floridians will die as a result of a drug overdose,” Plakon said.

Throughout the committee process, the measure faced stiff opposition from activists and criminal justice reform groups, including the ACLU of Florida and the NAACP Florida State Conference.

The collective, among other arguments, warned the proposal will likely increase the amount of death penalty cases and appeals at a time when public opinion around the issue is mixed.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


4 comments

  • Matthew Lusk

    February 23, 2022 at 7:42 am

    The thing to do is make all non military grade poisons perfectly
    legal for adults without a prescription. By pass monopolized health care. Oh, big pharma would not stand for that, it’s a trillion dollar industry for them. And the CIA would lose out on hundreds of billions. Not to mention hundreds of billions going to Latino cartels. No security risk there, move along. The only crime would be suicide, their body-their choice. It would be no different than now with perfectly illegal drunks on the highway.

  • It's Complicated

    February 23, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Since there is much talk about the powerful drug, Fentanyl, and the number of deaths from it each year, it is worth noting that the people dying are ingesting the versions manufactured in labs in Mexico and smuggled across our southern border by drug cartels. The Rx version of Fentanyl is a very effective pain reliever for the most severe pain sufferers, and is primarily delivered via an expensive transdermal patch. Instances of diversion of the Rx version into the hands of abusers is minuscule and almost incidental compared to the literal tons of the garage-lab versions being smuggled into our country and being used to ‘step up’ the efficacy of heroin or to create fake oxycontin pills for the street drug trade.

    Don’t confuse the two, because you or a loved one may need the Rx version one day, and will regret it if our all-knowing government makes the Rx versions of Fentanyl a ‘Schedule I’ drug, (i.e., ‘no legitimate/legal purpose’). These state laws don’t do that – the real danger lies with Congress.

  • Jim

    February 23, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    What about a murder charge against the person who sold the assault weapon to Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother?

    • It's Complicated

      February 23, 2022 at 1:42 pm

      In case you missed it in the news, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges, and the media lies about him will be headed to civil court to litigate damages for their intentional character assassinations. In short, it was a legitimate self-defense shooting – there was no crime.

Comments are closed.


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