Drug dealers can face death penalty under new state law

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In this Aug. 9, 2016, photo, a bag of 4-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, which was seized in a drug raid, is displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Testing and Research Laboratory in Sterling, Va. A novel class of deadly drugs is exploding across the country, with many manufactured in China for export around the world. The drugs, synthetic opioids, are fueling the deadliest addiction crisis the U.S. has ever seen. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

NAPLES, Fla. A new Florida law subjects dealers to the death penalty if they sell to someone who overdoses.

Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 477 in July in an effort to combat the growing opioid crisis across the state and it went into effect on Oct. 1.

The law, which only applies to adults, holds drug dealing criminals who carry fentanyl accountable and allows prosecutors to charge dealers with homicide if they sell a fatal dose of the drug.

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“People were looking for something stronger, faster, quicker, more powerful and they found it in fentanyl,” Continuum Services coordinator Heather Burton said.

Fentanyl, a drug used to treat severe pain, can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances.

MORE: Florida bolsters response to opioid-addiction crisis

While many applaud the action against the deadly opioid, others believe it’s not the right approach.

Reverend Tony Fisher with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples argues a dealer may not know his product is laced with fentanyl because it is essentially undetectable.

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“If its not morally right to take a life, then its not morally right for a state to take a life,” Fisher said.

The structure of the law has already been in practice for cocaine, opium and methodone-related deaths.

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