The Florida House of Representatives has unanimously passed HB 477, which criminalizes fentanyl trafficking and would allow drug dealers to be charged with manslaughter if their wares contribute to a death. The corresponding Senate bill, SB 150, was confirmed 7-0 in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting a hearing in the full Senate.
What would the new law have to say about fentanyl and carfentanil?
If passed, the new law would add the powerful opiate drugs fentanyl and carfentanil to Schedule I of Florida’s five schedules of controlled substances. This would serve to make them officially illegal to possess without a prescription. The bill also makes trafficking in fentanyl a first-degree felony under Florida law. Although mandatory minimum sentences have been losing popularity recently due to the mass incarceration problem, fentanyl trafficking would still have a mandatory minimum sentence and fine.
Fentanyl is an opiate medication that is considered to be between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl abuse can be deadly; it was ruled the cause of death for internationally renowned artist Prince a year ago. Carfentanil is an even more powerful opiate, estimated at 10,000 times the power of morphine. It is used legitimately as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large animals.
It’s unclear whether drug dealers could be charged with manslaughter for accidental deaths like Prince’s. Minnesota law allows such prosecutions in drug overdose cases.
According to the Bradenton Herald, heroin dealers have been found to have cut fentanyl, synthetic fentanyl, and even carfentanil into their heroin products, making them immensely more potent — and quite deadly.
If you or someone you care about has been accused of manslaughter after selling a controlled substance, you need a tough, quality criminal defense attorney right away. These are very serious charges in a quickly changing area of law — it’s not the time to wait and see what happens.