| Read Time: 2 minutes | Prescription Pills & Opioids

Florida House Bill 477 Targets Opioid Abuse in Florida

The State of Florida is ramping up it’s fight against opioid addiction. Earlier this year, Governor Scott declared a statewide public health emergency against opioid abuse. More recently, Governor Scott signed a new Florida law, House Bill 477, which will impose stricter penalties for those convicted of dealing and using pills, heroin, opioids and fentanyl and the overuse of opioid prescriptions. As of today, Florida has new penalties and enhanced laws related to synthetic opioid drugs. There are mandatory minimum sentences for possession of fentanyl and its derivatives. House Bill 477 states that: Controlled Substances; Provides that certain crime laboratory personnel may possess, store, & administer emergency opioid antagonists; provides that unlawful distribution of specified controlled substances & analogs or mixtures thereof which proximately cause death is murder; adds certain synthetic opioid substitute compounds to Schedule I; prohibits possession of more than 10 grams of specified substances; revises substances that constitute certain trafficking offenses; creates certain trafficking offenses; provides specified minimum terms of imprisonment & fines based on quantity involved in for certain offenses. Effective Date: 10/1/2017 It is very clear that we are in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis. Prescription abuse, opioid and heroin overdose is on the rise. But why is this new law so important to understand? First, H.B. 477 sets mandatory minimum sentences for opioid users and dealers. These mandatory minimum sentences take away any and all discretion that a judge may use when evaluating the case of someone grappling with addiction. H.B.477 specifically states that synthetic opioids are now Schedule 1 narcotics unless used for pharmaceutical purposes. When a drug is labelled under Schedule 1 that means anyone convicted of possessing more than 4 grams of fentanyl is subject to a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison. Anyone convicted of possessing more than 14 grams of fentanyl faces serving 15 years in prison and possession of more than 28 grams faces 25 years in prison. In addition to the new law, Governor Scott has proposed new legislation to help enforce this new law and fight the opioid abuse epidemic. Here’s what Governor Scott is pushing for – a $50 million dollar boost in funding and allow for only a three day supply of an opioid prescription. It would also require opioid prescribers to use the Florida Drug Monitoring Program, a database created in 2009 as part of the fight against pain mills. It’s important, now more than ever, to know what is in your prescription, and that HB 477 can have a serious impact on an ordinary user not just a dealer. Judges have no discretion when it comes to mandatory minimum sentences. At Moses and Rooth we understand the severity this new law. We will be able to evaluate the evidence in your case and aggressively defend you against the charges.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

The Legal Consequences of Illegally Selling Prescription Drugs in Florida

Prescription drugs can be just as addicting as other drug substances and, if you are caught in possession of or selling them you may face serious consequences. More specifically, there can be severe penalties for the illegal sale of prescription drugs, even if you possessed the drugs legally in the first place. If you have been charged with the sale of illegal prescription drugs, Moses & Rooth can provide you with a defense crafted by our drug crime attorneys and their many years of experience. The illegal sale of prescription drugs happens in many different ways. A person with a valid prescription may sell the medication to another person. Also, a licensed medical professional may provide a prescription to a person that does not need the medication. Non-Health Care Providers Florida Statute 893.13 makes it illegal to sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to sell a controlled substance. If you do not hold a medical license, the punishment for the illegal sale of a prescription drug varies. Under Florida Statute 893.03, drugs that have a medical purpose are separated into four categories determined by the potential of abuse for the substance. The potential for abuse of the prescription drug and the amount that a person is charged with selling will determine if the person is charged with a misdemeanor or a type of felony. A person may be charged with anything from a first degree misdemeanor to a first degree felony depending on what kind of prescription drug is sold, how it was sold, or where the drug was sold. The severity of the punishment could range anywhere from less than a year to up to 30 years in prison. Health Care Providers Under Florida Statute 893.13, a health care professional cannot provide a patient with a prescription that the patient does not medically need or in an amount greater than necessary. Also, a health care professional cannot provide a prescription for the sole purpose of retaining a monetary value for the prescription. A medical professional who is convicted of selling prescription drugs may be found guilty of either a first-degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony, however, these are not the only repercussions a doctor or other health care provider may face. A licensed medical professional risks losing their license and future earning potential if found guilty. Depending on the amount of prescription drugs a person has on them when caught selling, the person may face trafficking charges, regardless of whether or not the person is a medical professional. Trafficking charges hold much more severe consequences than just the sale of a prescription drug. Fight the Charges with an Experienced Attorney The use or sale of prescription drugs without a valid prescription can lead to serious legal trouble. If you have been charged with the illegal sale or trafficking of a prescription drug, contact Moses & Rooth. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth can explain the charges and provide options for your defense.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Ex-police officer faces drug trafficking charges in federal court

A Florida police officer, who was formerly employed by the West Palm Beach Police Department, was terminated last year on allegations that he disregarded police department policy. Now, he has been charged with selling prescription drugs while he was on duty as a police officer. The 45-year-old man is facing the drug trafficking charges in federal court. The policeman, who was employed for 18 years by the West Palm Beach Police Department, lost his job in August 2013. He was fired following his failure to respond immediately to a call at a high school. However, the man’s employment record allegedly contains a number of infractions that required disciplinary action over the history of his career. Federal prosecutors claim that the ex-officer was operating a drug trafficking business, illegally selling steroids and prescription drugs while on the job. For example, the criminal complaint accuses the man of delivering drugs while donning his police uniform in March 2013. It further alleges that he sold prescription drugs illegally to different individuals in April 2013. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the man could spend anywhere from five years to as much as a lifetime in prison for these crimes if he is convicted. It is important to note that, in spite of the severity of the drug trafficking allegations against this Florida police officer, he will remain innocent in the eyes of the law until — and only if — he is found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Obtaining a guilty verdict is often more difficult for the prosecution to achieve than it might readily appear. Also, if the man is unable to obtain a not guilty verdict on all the charges he faces, he may be able to get certain charges dropped and/or reach a plea bargain deal that could dramatically reduce the severity of the final judgement in his case. Source: Palm Beach Post, “Former West Palm Beach police officer accused of selling steroids, prescription drugs while on duty” Julius Whigham II, Apr. 12, 2014

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Prescription Pills & Opioids

Warrants issued for Prescription Pills Trafficking Ring

Law enforcement agencies across Central Florida are continuing their attack on the illegal possession of prescription pills and sale of prescription drugs. Over the past several months law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) have added more officers, detectives and agents to combat the overwhelming increase in illegal possession of the prescription drugs. With this increase in law enforcement, the Courts across Central Florida have clearly seen a growth in illegal prescription drug cases. Over the last 11 months, a number of these law enforcement agencies have been working a criminal investigation in Marion County that led to 43 individual arrests for over 200 felonies. The target of the investigation was into the trafficking of thousands of Oxycodone and methadone pills. An Orlando Sentinel article indicated that the “ringleader” formed the organization that included several operators and reselling prescription pills for $15 to $20 a piece resulting in over $100,000 in profits. This investigation is a clear indication of the focus and dedication of resources that the local law enforcement agencies are willing to dedicate to this pill epidemic. Local law enforcement agencies are working together with DEA and FDLE in order to share resources and make these types of arrests across Central Florida. With the assistance of these Federal and State agencies the local law enforcement officers are targeting larger rings of trafficking the pills,doctor shopping, pill mills, and the doctors who are alleged to have been overprescribing the medications.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Prescription Pills & Opioids

CVS Decision Impacts More Than Just Florida Doctors

In an unprecedented act, a national pharmacy chain has informed a small number of Florida doctors, including a few in Orlando, that any prescriptions written for certain pain killing drugs (Schedule II narcotics) will not be filled by the pharmacy. In late 2011, CVS/pharmacy sent an unsigned letter to these doctors notifying them of the decision. What was not stated in the letter is why the pharmacy made the decision was made. However, an article in the Orlando Sentinel notes that Florida, in years past, did little to regulate pain clinics and this attracted abusers and dealers of prescription drugs to the state. And in July of 2011, the state enacted more restrictive controls over the dispensing of pain killers and imposed stiffer penalties on doctors who violate state drug control laws. The Orlando Sentinel also notes that several of the Florida doctors that received letters from CVS/pharmacy, including five in the greater Orlando-area, have previously been arrested for crimes relating to prescription drugs and/or medical malpractice. But, not all of the doctors that received letters have been arrested. One such doctor feels that CVS/pharmacy is “blacklisting” certain doctors and is fighting back. This particular doctor has filed a defamation lawsuit claiming that the pharmacy is “falsely implying” that the doctor is practicing medicine “unethically or illegally.” By not filling certain prescriptions from a number of doctors, the pharmacy does more than just, in the words of one of the doctors, “blacklist” the doctors that received letters, the pharmacy may be preventing many Floridians who live with pain from the prescription medications they so desperately need.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Cocaine Use Declining in Florida

After being in vogue for over 25 years, cocaine use in Florida is declining. According to a report by James N. Hall, Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University, the number of cocaine-related overdoses and deaths in Florida has declined. Likewise, fewer people are seeking treatment for cocaine and crack addictions. But it is not because we are winning the war on drugs or because more drug users are becoming clean – cocaine use is declining primarily because, in tough economic times, many cannot afford to buy it. Cocaine was introduced in the United States in the 1970s, but the height of its use was in the 1980s and 1990s. Cocaine and crack cocaine were readily available and abuse was rampant. As cocaine use increased, so did law enforcement’s war on drugs. The war on drugs made it more difficult to obtain cocaine, thereby reducing the supply and making it more expensive. Increased police efforts have lead to more “cut” – or less pure cocaine – being on the market; so users are paying more but getting less. Recently, Florida’s unemployment rate has hovered between 10 and 12 percent, the housing market has collapsed and many Floridians have little disposable income. Cocaine, one of the priciest recreational drugs, is too expensive and more of a luxury drug in this economy. Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise While cocaine use is declining, the abuse of prescription drugs is increasing. Prescription drugs are easier to obtain and cheaper than cocaine. According to an article in the Miami Herald, of the 9,000 drug-related deaths reported in Florida in 2010, 6,090 of those included the use of benzodiazepines and Oxycodone. Here are some statistics from Hall’s report: In 2007, there were 281 cocaine-related deaths in Miami, while In 2009, that number fell to 155 deaths The number of ER visits related to cocaine overdoses declined 14 percent from 2008 and 2009 In 2009, 918 persons sought treatment for cocaine addiction, and in 2010, only 549 persons sought treatment In 2010, deaths from prescription drugs like Oxycodone increased 50 percent Cocaine and Florida are linked forever in pop culture because of TV shows like “Miami Vice” and movies such as “Scarface.” But with declining use of cocaine and increasing abuse of prescription drugs, it may be time for that image to change.

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