States look for solutions as fentanyl deaths keep rising
In statehouses across the country, lawmakers have been considering and adopting laws on two fronts: reducing the risk to users and increasing the penalties for dealing fentanyl or mixing it with other drugs.
With fentanyl driving fatal overdoses to record levels in the U.S., state governments are scrambling for solutions.
Since last year, at least 18 states - including Florida - have passed or considered laws to make it clear that it's legal to use tests to determine whether illegal drugs contain the powerful synthetic opioid or others like it.
States also are increasing penalties aimed at people who traffic the drugs.
The chemical precursors to the drugs are being shipped largely from China to Mexico, where much of the illicit fentanyl supply is produced in labs before being smuggled into the U.S. Republican governors and attorneys general are criticizing the Biden administration for not doing enough to stop the flow with border security and prosecutions.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the nation recorded more than 100,000 drug overdoses deaths over a 12-month period. About two-thirds of the deaths were linked to fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.
Florida recorded 24.4 synthetic opioids deaths per 100,000 residents from November 2000 to October 2021, according to the CDC.
The recent case of five West Point cadets who overdosed on fentanyl-laced cocaine during spring break in Florida put the dangers and pervasiveness of the fentanyl crisis back in the spotlight.