Florida law makes it a felony to expose first responders to fentanyl

A new Florida law will make it a felony to expose first responders to fentanyl or other chemically similar drugs when the exposure results in physical harm. Experts from American College of Medical Toxicology and American Academy of Clinical Toxicology said this law will create an “unnecessary concern,” as the risk of clinically significant fentanyl exposure is extremely low. The president of the National Association of EMS Physicians warned that this law could “potentially discourage bystanders or family members from reaching out for emergency assistance during an overdose.” The law has sparked conversation on social media, with some users expressing concerns that the law reinforces myths about fentanyl and others expressing support for the law and linking fentanyl to “the open border crisis.”


This law may cause confusion about who is at risk of fentanyl overdose, what to do during a suspected fentanyl overdose, and how fentanyl exposure works. It also may increase stigma against people who use drugs. Messaging may emphasize that fentanyl overdoses occur when the substance is ingested by mouth, intravenous use, or snorting. People cannot be exposed to fentanyl through the air or by touching someone, unless they come into direct contact with a fentanyl patch—and in that case, the drug will not take effect for 12 hours. Ensuring that informational materials, especially on websites and in toolkits for community-based organizations, include clear instructions on when and how to use naloxone during a suspected fentanyl overdose is recommended. Trending conversations about fentanyl also provide an opportunity to push out existing messaging that outlines the signs of opioid overdose.