Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill that would create tougher punishment for the pain medication “fentanyl.”  

  • Gov. Scott signs bill on tougher punishment for 'fentanyl' trafficking 
  • Fentanyl a highly addictive, dangerous pain medication
  • Dealers to face homicide charges for overdoses under new bill

The bill was passed in an effort to get opioids off the street and dealers in jail.

Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The NIDA website says high doses of opioids, especially potent opioids such as fentanyl, can cause breathing to stop completely, which can lead to death. The high potency of fentanyl greatly increases risk of overdose, especially if the person who uses drugs is unaware that it contains fentanyl. 

Under the new bill, over four grams of trafficking fentanyl would be a felony charge and if someone dies from taking the drug, the dealer could be charged with homicide.

The bill could make a big difference in Manatee County. So far this year, the county has seen more than 500 overdoses and more than 50 deaths.

Manatee County resident Amber Gordon, who is now 18 months sober, is hoping the bill will prevent others from going down the wrong path.

“It takes many people to get rid of an epidemic like this but I think we continue going forward and not going backward, then we can hopefully and safely nip this in the bud,” Gordon said.

Prior to the bill, there was no way to charge someone for trafficking fentanyl.