The new law increases sentences for drug dealers caught selling fentanyl or methamphetamine. It gives prosecutors the ability to charge dealers with first-degree murder if methamphetamine leads to an overdose death. As a capital crime, dealers could face life in prison or even the death penalty.
"Someone dealing fentanyl is murdering people, and they are going to go to prison in the state of Florida," said DeSantis.
The law also enhances penalties for the sale of controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a substance abuse treatment facility and increases the mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl from three years to seven years for 4-14 grams, and from 15 to 20 years for 14-28 grams.
The opioid crisis has touched millions of families and children across the US. In Florida, overdose deaths related to fentanyl have risen by 63% since 2019.
The dangerous man-made drug is 50 to 300 times more potent than morphine. Many overdose victims don’t even realize they’ve taken it.
"We have folks buying pills stamped M30 to look like oxycodone. It’s not oxycodone," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "It’s got binders in it and fentanyl. So they’re taking the oxycodone, right? They’re getting an overdose of fentanyl."
Mike Itani, whose son died of a fentanyl overdose, was in attendance for the governor’s bill signing ceremony in Kathleen. He described his son as a "normal kid" who’d developed substance abuse problems. In 2018, a friend found his son dead inside his apartment. Itani applauded the law, saying he hopes it saves other families from the heartbreak he’s experienced.
"I truly believe that if you are intentionally giving someone something that you know is going to kill them, it is a murder," said Itani.