Gov. Scott signs bill to combat opioid epidemic in Florida

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - In response to a rise in opioid-related deaths, Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation Thursday in Orlando created to curb opioid use in Florida.

House Bill 477 creates new penalties related to synthetic opioid drugs and fentanyl, WKMG reports. Florida is also under a public health emergency established by the governor in May.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Orlando police Chief John Mina joined the governor while he signed the bill at the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Earlier in the week Mina established new policies for officers responding to possible opioid cases after one of his detectives became ill while investigating an overdose death Saturday.

"When the detective was there, he had trouble breathing, we believe because of the drugs that were in the room," Mina said in a video OPD tweeted Wednesday.

The drugs at the scene later tested positive for fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.

“This legislation sends a strong message that the State of Florida will not tolerate those who would take advantage of the vulnerable Floridians who are fighting in this national opioid epidemic,” Scott said.

Scott also vowed to work with Florida legislatures next session to find new ways to fight the opioid crisis.

“I appreciate Governor Scott’s commitment to this serious issue and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our officers have all the resources they need in this fight,” Demings said.

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