Florida governor declares public health emergency over opioid epidemic

AP Photo/Chris Post

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency to combat Florida’s opioid-addiction epidemic, which will allow $27 million in federal funding to be spent for treatment and prevention services.

Following Scott’s executive order Wednesday, the Florida Senate unanimously passed legislation creating tougher penalties for synthetic drug offenses. The measure could lead to murder charges for fentanyl drug dealers in cases where the buyer overdoses and dies. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that can be 100 times more potent than morphine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 397 fentanyl-related deaths in Florida between 2013 and 2014. In 2015, more than 700 people died of a fentanyl overdose.

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