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Governor DeSantis Signs Legislation to Protect Law Enforcement Officers from Fentanyl Exposure

WOFL via The Florida Channel

Florida - Monday April 8, 2024: In Sanford today Governor DeSantis signed Senate Bill 718, a measure that will increase penalties on anyone who exposes any law enforcement officer to fentanyl.

The new law also expands protections from prosecution for individuals who, in good faith, seek help for themselves or someone they know, who maybe in danger of experiencing an overdose from the illegal use of opioids.

At the ceremony the Governor said he is signing the legislation to keep officers safe on the job, and to further combat the opioid epidemic.

The Governor also signed Senate Bill 66 into law. This legislation directs the Florida Department of Health to expand its efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids.

SB 718 does the following:
· Creates a second-degree felony for any adult who, through unlawful possession of dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl products, recklessly exposes any first responder to such fentanyl and that results in overdose or serious bodily injury.
· Expands protections from prosecution for individuals who seek help in good faith due to the belief that they or someone they know is experiencing an overdose.

SB 66 does the following:
· Designates June 6th as Revive Awareness Day.
· Directs the Florida Department of Health to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid overdose and the safe use of opioid counteracts.

Governor DeSantis also announced the expansion of The Coordinated Opioid Recovery Network known as CORE.

The Department of Health, the Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration have banded together to create CORE which is a network of addiction care centers. CORE promotes the use of naloxone which counteracts the overdoes effects of fentanyl and other opioids.

Core currently serves only 12 Florida counties. The program will now be expanded to include 29 counties in the state.

The 17 additional counties are Bay, Broward, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okaloosa, Orange, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, and St. Lucie counties.

While nationwide statistics show that only 18.8% of adults with an opioid addiction have received medication to treat the addiction in the past year, CORE far exceeded the national average with 48.9% of patients receiving Medication Assisted Treatment.

CORE providers have responded to nearly 18,000 emergency calls which resulted in a life saved through the administration of naloxone.

With the launch of CORE, Florida has also seen a reduction in the number of emergency medical service responses for drug overdoses.

Recent state level data shows 607 fewer EMS responses to suspected overdoses. That is a 3% decrease since 2022.

Since the launch of the CORE program overdose deaths are on the decline in Florida. Data shows a 9% decrease from September 2022 to September 2023. That is amounts to 557 fewer deaths compared to the previous year's statewide count.