Florida Bill Introduced to Reform Prescription Drug Laws

Post Date: September 30, 2013

Under current Florida law, prescription painkillers (e.g., Oxycodone, hydrocodone) are treated like heroin, and the minimum weight threshold for trafficking is four grams. Because the entire pill is weighed, and not just the controlled substance in the pill, as few as seven pills can trigger “trafficking” and yield a three-year mandatory minimum sentence. Fourteen grams triggers a mandatory minimum fifteen year sentence, and 28 grams yields a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence.

HB 99, sponsored by Rep. Katie Edwards, amends the drug trafficking statute (F.S. 893.135) by removing Oxycodone and hydrocodone from the current section that punishes trafficking in these substances and other opiates, and creates a new section, “trafficking in prescription drugs.”

That new section raises the threshold trafficking weight from four grams to 14 grams (effectively eliminating the charge of “trafficking” for possession of between 4-14 grams of Oxycodone or hydrocodone), and changes the penalties associated with prescription drug trafficking. The proposed new weights and penalties are as follows:

  • Trafficking in 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone: 3-year mandatory minimum term and $50,000 fine. (Under current law, a 3-year mandatory minimum term and a $50,000 fine are provided for trafficking in 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone.)
  • Trafficking in 28 grams or more, but less than 50 grams, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone: 7-year mandatory minimum term and $100,000 fine. (Under current law, a 15-year mandatory minimum term and a $100,000 fine are provided for trafficking in 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone.)
  • Trafficking in 50 grams or more, but less than 200 grams, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone: 15-year mandatory minimum term and $50,000 fine. (Under current law, a 25-year mandatory minimum term and a $500,000 fine are provided for trafficking in 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone.)
  • Trafficking in 200 grams or more of Oxycodone or hydrocodone: 25-year mandatory minimum term and $500,000 fine. (Under current law, a 25-year mandatory minimum term and a $500,000 fine are provided for trafficking in 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms, of Oxycodone or hydrocodone. Trafficking in 30 kilograms or more of these drugs is punishable by life imprisonment.)

HB 99 makes a number of significant changes, all of them improvements over the status quo. However, the changes are not retroactive, which means the new thresholds and penalties will apply only to offenses committed on or after the effective date of July 1, 2014.

If you have any questions about HB 99 or mandatory sentencing laws, please contact FAMM Florida Project Director Greg Newburn.