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Deadline Arrives For Bill Stiffening Opioid Penalties

Peter Haden/WLRN
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

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.

As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.