Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out a criminal justice proposal last week that should delight Florida’s conservatives as well as his inevitable national supporters who are already lining up behind the governor’s anti-woke, anti-gay, anti-Disney, anti-cannabis legalization and his recent proposal to nix high school AP courses on African-American studies.
As Donald Trump’s inevitable GOP presidential challenger prepares to step into the ring and outgun the king of run-wing culture wars, DeSantis announced a multi-pronged approach to combat the fentanyl crisis plaguing the country by imposing additional penalties on the illicit opioid and other drug-related crimes.
“We want to make sure that we cement our reputation as being a law-and-order state and take actions as necessary to help further protect the people of the state of Florida,” De Santis said at a press conference at the Miami Police Benevolent Association hall.
DeSantis’s recommendation for stamping out the proliferation of fentanyl is to make it a first-degree felony to possess, sell or manufacture the illicit opiate and other controlled substances, which at the moment happens to include cannabis, that resemble candy or other sweets. His proposal would add a mandatory life sentence and a $1 million penalty for trafficking any of these substances that target children. Advocates nationwide have pressured the Biden administration to remove cannabis from the DEA's list of Schedule I controlled substances, which includes heroin, LSD, meth and ecstacy.
While Republicans made the flow of fentanyl a part of their midterm election message in an attempt to link drug smuggling to undocumented immigration, Congress and the Biden administration pushed through major reforms to the way people with addiction get healthcare.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released a statement on Jan. 11 praising what he called a “steady slowing of the rate of increase in overdose deaths for the tenth month in a row” and announcing the Administration’s support for increasing access to naloxone, which can reverse opioid-related overdoses.
Gupta said the administration is “expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services and disrupting the supply of illicit drugs like the fentanyl-related substances driving the overdose epidemic.”
Last year, DeSantis increased mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking fentanyl, which caused nearly 6,000 deaths in Florida in 2021. Nationwide, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 107,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2021, largely due to fentanyl, which is being produced and smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico primarily by the Sinaloa Cartel.
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