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Health News Florida

Deadline Arrives For Bill Stiffening Opioid Penalties

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Peter Haden/WLRN

Gov. Rick Scott has until Wednesday to act on a bill that would create harsher punishments for opioid possession.

As overdose deaths rise across the state, lawmakers felt pressured to crack down on synthetic drugs fentanyl and carfentanil, which are many times deadlier than heroin.

But St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes has doubts about the penalties.

“I am not someone who believes that mandatory minimums … that heroin addicts are thinking about the mandatory minimums when they’re using heroin,” Brandes said.  “I don’t think they’re thinking about that. I think they’re thinking about their next high.”

The bill would also add forensic lab technicians to the list of people able to carry overdose drugs. They, along with first responders, are at risk of absorbing the deadly opioids through their skin.