By: Jake Stofan | Capital News Service
October 11, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — The Statewide Task Force on Opioid abuse met for the first time in the state Capitol Friday morning.
The panel is tasked with making legislative recommendations to help stem a crisis that is killing 17 Floridians every day.
It’s an epidemic touches almost every corner of society.
That’s why the state’s opioid task force includes law enforcement, addiction experts and mental health professionals.
“This is not a situation of trying to make bad people good, but rather sick people well,” said Task Force Co-Chair and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma.
In its first meeting three committees were designated.
Prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
“We were always playing defense. This demonstrates that now we're ready to play offense,” said Former State Representative and task force member Jim Boyd.
The law enforcement component will likely be targeted at traffickers according to members.
But Sheriff Lemma said for those who are addicted, the focus will be on treatment.
“We feel that crime and delinquency are symptoms of other problems,” said Lemma.
Task Force Chair Attorney General Ashley Moody said any recommendations will be based on proven methods and data.
“We've already been looking at what's working and what's not across the state so that we can overlay those with death rates and seeing where are death rates going down and what practices are being used,” said Moody.
While opioids are the main focus of this task force, some of the members expressed a desire to be more proactive in addressing other drugs gaining popularity like methamphetamine.
Task force member and Miami Judge Steve Leifman believes the task force’s work might help stop the next drug crisis before it happens.
“Just chasing a particular drug is not necessarily going to do it, but it is a great start for us by focusing on the opioids to then look at the other issues,” said Leifman.
The task force will need to work fast if they hope to have recommendations in place by the start of the next legislative session in January.
The task force is will be meeting once a month going forward.
Copyright 2019 Capitol News Service. All rights reserved.