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New law cracks down on fentanyl traffickers

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Dealers of opioid drugs including fentanyl will face stricter penalties under a new measure signed into law last week.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as few as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be a fatal dose. One kilogram could potentially kill 500,000 people, the DEA said. The new law includes changes recommended by the Statewide Task Force, a group created in 2019 to study strategies to combat opioid use in Florida.

Signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 19, HB95 increases the mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl from three years to seven years in prison for possession of 4- to 14-grams, and 15 to 20 years for possession of 14- to 20-grams.

“If you are dealing fentanyl, you are murdering people, you will be put in jail,” DeSantis said during a May 19 press conference in Lakeland. “All you can do is throw the book at them.”

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The measure also adds methamphetamine to law enforcement’s list of controlled substances. If the use of those substances results in death, anyone who distributes it can be charged with murder.

According to DeSantis, the new law comes in response to the increase in opioid drugs being brought across the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

“You used to hear about people making meth, but methamphetamine is coming over the border now, too,” DeSantis said. “We will do all we can to keep Floridians safe.”

HB 95 becomes effective on Oct. 1, 2022.

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