Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma held a press conference this week to inform the public that the operator of a drug rehab facility located in Altamonte Springs had been arrested for selling fentanyl to patients. The operator in custody is Leigh Gilley, who is charged with multiple including the distribution and possession of fentanyl and other controlled substances.
The state of Florida has long struggled with concerns related to the use of fentanyl, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have joined forces in an effort to combat the rise of fentanyl use and subsequent issues related to deaths from the use.
Most recently, Florida state Senator Jason Brodeur (R) introduced Senate Bill 190, Controlled Substances. Last month, the Florida lawmaker introduced the bill to “enhance penalties for the sale or distribution of controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a drug treatment clinic, recovery residence, or any facility that provides treatment to those recovering from substance disorders.” In reference to fentanyl, “the penalty would be increased from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.”
In a statement, Brodeur discussed the need for the updated measures, arguing that “this bill is about protecting our communities – especially those in recovery – from opportunistic criminals who prey on patients in their time of greatest need.”
“So far this year, Seminole County has had 707 overdoses and 105 overdose deaths related to fentanyl and other drugs,” Brodeur added, expressing that “with the crushing emotional and physical toll of COVID-19 on our communities, there has never been a more important time to act and to fight back with those who see this pandemic as nothing more than an opportunity to prey on the sick.”
The bill has received support from Seminole County Sheriff Lemma along with the Florida Sheriffs Association. Moreover, a companion bill has been filed in the Florida house by Florida Rep. Scott Plakon (R).