New Controlled Substances Bill Signed by Gov. DeSantis

May 23, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, News & Announcements

Governor Ron DeSantis has just signed HB 95 into law on May 19th, 2022. We have previously covered SB 190 and HB 95 in previous blogs, and now the Controlled Substance bill has officially been passed.

The Governor of Florida paid a visit to the Polk County Fire Rescue Station in Kathleen to sign the new bill. Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff, Dennis Lemma, Seminole County Sheriff, along with local first responders were all present during the bill’s signing.

Now that House Bill 95 has passed and been signed into law, it is important to go over its specific details, along with the various responses.

Details of HB 95

Under HB 95 titled Controlled Substances, it describes revising the elements that constitute the capital offense of murder in the first degree, along with revising what constitutes a felony murder in the third degree. It prohibits specified activities involving controlled substances within 1,000 feet of additional specified facilities. In addition, it is meant to rename the violation of specified offenses that was known as “trafficking in fentanyl” to “trafficking in dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogues.”

HB 95 will also implement the recommendations of the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Abuse—developed in 2019 by Gov. DeSantis to identify and strategize the best ways to try and combat the opioid epidemic. The main focuses for this are based on education, treatment, prevention, recovery, and law enforcement.

The main points highlighted in HB 95 are as follows:

  • Methamphetamine has been added to the list of specified controlled substances, and if this is the cause of death for an individual, it would subject the distributor of the substance to a first-degree felony murder conviction.
  • The penalties for selling a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of substance abuse treatment facilities have been enhanced.
  • The mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl has been increased from three to seven years for 4-14 grams, and from fifteen to twenty years for 14-28 grams.

Recent Fentanyl Statistics

Unfortunately, fentanyl has become more and more prevalent in Florida. Just a few months ago, several cases of fentanyl caused serious overdoses during spring break. The fact of the matter is that fentanyl is extremely dangerous, and is life-threatening to those who come in contact with it.

According to the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission, there were an estimated 5,300 deaths in the state caused by fentanyl. DeSantis also stated that in just the first half of 2021, there was a 5% increase in opioid-related deaths in Florida. Fentanyl-related deaths specifically rose by 10%.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that fentanyl deaths have gone up from 106 deaths in 2020 to 116 deaths in 2021. “This is dangerous,” Judd said. “We have a governor who cares for you who wants to make sure the sellers pay a price.


At the bill’s signing, Gov. DeSantis addressed the need to reduce the harm that fentanyl has been causing in Florida. “We are going to do all we can to decrease the prevalence of fentanyl in Florida,” DeSantis said. “If you are dealing fentanyl, you are killing people and you are going to be put in jail.”

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma thanked Gov. DeSantis for his commitment to look at the opioid pandemic from a more holistic approach. Lemma commented, “You cannot address this problem without holding the drug dealers accountable to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank the leaders and sponsors of this bill and the Florida Sheriffs.”

First Lady Casey DeSantis also spoke of an assembly she attended at a school in Kissimmee on the life-altering effects of substance use and abuse. “Our initiative not only tells our youth to say no to drugs, but also teaches them why…We’re committed to tackling this problem from all angles and striving for a drug free Florida.” She said.

A local fire rescue paramedic in Polk County, Tom Konze, shared his first experience responding to the scene of an overdose from fentanyl. When describing the scene, Konze said a woman led him to a pale, sweaty man on the brink of death, laying on a mattress in a shed. Konze gave the following comment:

“When we think of fentanyl, we think of the addicts and we think of the dealers, but what we forget sometimes are the victims in this crisis: the families, especially children. As a first responder and our point of view, with the signing of this bill today I believe we are one step closer to solving this crisis.”

One Florida parent who lost his child to a fentanyl overdose in 2018 also spoke at the signing, addressing his hope for HB 95 to help families in the future. Mike Itani said of his late 23-year-old son, “He was a normal kid, involved in sports, nothing abnormal. A lot of people think of people that have passed away from an overdose, they think of them as junkies, but they are everyday normal people just like us. I truly believe that if you are intentionally giving somebody something that you know is going to kill them, it is murder.”

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Any type of drug charge is taken very seriously in Florida. Getting accused of obtaining drugs, especially with the intent of trafficking and selling that drug, can lead to serious consequences. The new signing of HB 95 shows how Florida is starting to crack down even more on the possession of drugs. If you or a loved one have been accused of a drug crime, make sure your first move is reaching out to a skilled drug crime defense lawyer. Quality legal advice can help guide you through the legal process, strategize a strong defense, and work towards getting your freedom. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across the state of Florida. They are prepared to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation today.

Written by Karissa Key

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