Opioid-related overdoses caused 42,429 deaths in 2016 alone. About 40% of these opioid deaths – about 17,087 – were by the misuse of prescription opioids. It’s important to be aware of opioid laws, especially in a place where the opioid epidemic is running rampant, such as South Florida. There was a 35 percent increase in deaths by opioids from 2016, and there were 5,725 deaths in South Florida because of them. Here’s our guide to the opioid laws in South Florida that you need to know about.
HB21 – Bill on Prescription Limits for Opioids
In March 2018, the Florida legislature passed a bill that instituted prescription limits on opioids, as well as increasing funding for treatment by $53.5 million dollars. HB 21 places a three-day limit on prescribed opioids for anyone who has acute pain, unless they meet the requirements needed for anyone who needs a seven-day supply.
This bill made Florida the 25th state since 2016 that has passed legislation that creates various restrictions on various opioid prescriptions. Among the most common drugs found in people’s systems were benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Klonopin, on top of opioids such as Oxycontin. The bill was officially put into place on July 1.
Florida House Bill 477 – Fentanyl Law
In this tough fentanyl law, which was passed in July 2017, judges are bound by law to give mandatory minimum prison sentences to people who are caught with fentanyl and carfentanil. Anyone in possession of four grams will serve a minimum of three years in jail; being caught with 14 grams will mean 15 years; and if one is found with 28 grams, that can be up to a minimum of 25 years behind bars.
Further, the bill gives prosecutors the power to charge any fentanyl dealers with homicide if they sell a fatal dose of the drug. This comes after news that occurrences of fentanyl increased by 80 percent in 2016 in all opioid-related deaths, and deaths caused by fentanyl skyrocketed by 97 percent. According to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, synthetic opioids among the likes of fentanyl and carfentanil were responsible for the deaths of over 850 people in the first six months of 2016, making them responsible for more deaths other drugs.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – PDMP
Florida legislature responded to the pill mill epidemic in 2009 by creating the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). With this law, pharmacists and dispensing practitioners were required to report various kinds of information to the database every time they dispensed a controlled substance within seven days of doing so. Despite this, the law didn’t need them to check the database prior to giving out a controlled substance.
Being aware and cognizant of opioid laws in South Florida and the impact of the opioid epidemic currently going on in the United States is crucial. If you or a loved one has been involved in an opioid-related crime, contact a Broward Criminal Lawyer you know you can trust.
Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. is an experienced, bold and aggressive attorney. If you have any questions about opioid laws in Florida or are concerned about a lawsuit involving it, call us for a free consultation at (954) 641-8129.