In the State of Florida, Pensacola all the way down to Miami, the mere possession of certain controlled substances , even in very small amounts can carry trafficking minimum mandatory prison sentences. This brief articles addresses the tremendously horrendous penalties associated with the simple possession a class of narcotic drugs, hydrocodone. These includes well known, generic and inexpensive mid to mild pain killers Lortabs, Percocet, Darvocet. The possession of these drugs in Florida state court is far more serious that in any federal court through out the entire county. At the end of the second part of this brief article minimum mandatories for possession of other drugs, such as cocaine, are discussed.
The reasons why possession of hydrocodone, a.k.a. Lortab, Percocet, Darvocet, etc., is because several years ago the Florida Legislature amended Chapter 893, the drug statute in Florida, and enhanced the possession of hydrocodone from a schedule III drug to a Schedule II drug. What happens in the cases of Class II drugs is that not only the inert “illegal” ingredient of the drug will be factored into the equation of the weight of the drug but the “filler” or other compounds or ingredients mixed in with the inert or narcotic ingredient will be added into the total weight of the pill. So, for example, in Lortabs, or hydrocodone, which consists primarily of acetaminophen, the same ingredient that makes up Tylenol, an over the counter pain medication, will be used in the total weight calculation.
What this means is that possession of more than six tablets of Lortab is a three year minimum prison sentence, possession of thirty of these pills is a fifteen-year minimum mandatory and possession of a 100 of Lortabs without prescription is a twenty-five year minimum mandatory! These mandatories do not apply to only those who sell, deliver or give Lortabs or hydrocone to other people. The mere possession of these quantities is trafficking!! So, for example, the friend who gives a buddy six Lortab 10s not only is “trafficking” because the friend had an acute injury and is in pain, will also be guilty of a three year minimum mandatory by merely possessing the drug!
The legislature has made mere possession of one of the most widely used mild-mid level pain killers, hydrocodone or Lortabs, a mandatory prison sentence if you have only six tablets! I recently had a personal injury case I handled where the pain doctor in Pensacola regularly prescribes 120 of the pills on a monthly basis to some of his pain patients who suffered a back injury in a car wreck. The patient, a young man in his 30s, didn’t like the way they made him feel so he gave them to a co-worker friend of his who was obese and had painful arthritis in his knees and hips. This law means the fellow in pain would be looking at 25 years in prison if arrested by merely possessing these drugs! Hard to believe but true!
The policy behind the legislature moving hydrocodone to a Class II drug from a Class III drug is Class II drugs are more addictive in nature that Class III. For example, cocaine is Class II drug. Diet pills are Class III or Class IV drugs and the “mixture of other substances” and not added to the controlled substance and are not counted in the total weight calculation.
Travesties are occurring around Florida when first time offenders are arrested with a small number of these drugs and receive long minimum mandatory prison sentences. The only way the law is going to change is for the legislature to reclassify hydrocodone to a Class III drug. But being realistic, how many politicians, politics being what they are, are going to want to sponsor a bill making possession of a narcotic drug less severe? Some will one day, when one of their constituents, or one of their loved ones or family members gets ensnared by this terrible law.