The Florida House has unanimously passed a bill that would allow dealers who distribute the drugs that lead to someone’s death to be charged with manslaughter.
HB 477, co-introduced by Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, would add fentanyl, carfentanil and several other synthetic forms of the drug to the list of schedule I controlled substances. These drugs have been blamed for intensifying the heroin epidemic in Manatee County.
The bill, passed Thursday, would also add a charge of trafficking in fentanyl to the current statute, making it a first-degree felony to possess more than four grams of fentanyl with mandatory minimum prison terms and mandatory fines.
Fentanyl — an opioid painkiller 100 times more powerful than morphine — is being cut into heroin supplies or sold as heroin. More recently, carfentanil — 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and often used as a tranquilizer to subdue large exotic animals such as rhinos, elephants and hippos — and other synthetic forms of fentanyl are being cut into or sold as heroin.
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The Senate version of the bill, SB 150, was approved in a 7-0 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.