Ashley Moody Issues Emergency Rule Outlawing Eight Synthetic Opioids

This week, state Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an emergency rule to add eight deadly synthetic opioids to the Schedule I of controlled substances in Florida.

The drugs, categorized as nitazenes, have no medical use and can cause adverse health effects, including overdose deaths. These synthetic opioids are linked to at least 15 deaths in Florida since 2020, including two in Pasco County. This emergency order makes it a felony for an individual to possess, sell, manufacture or deliver any of these eight drugs.

“I am taking immediate action to outlaw these eight deadly synthetic opioids in Florida, to prevent future deaths. Not only are we seeing an increase in the number of nitazene cases identified in Florida, but we also suspect these substances are being mixed with more common street drugs and sold to unsuspecting users. Some nitazenes are many times more lethal than fentanyl and we must make sure they do not become more prevalent in our state, or I am afraid we will see overdose deaths skyrocket,” Moody said.

Forensic labs in Florida first began identifying cases of nitazenes in 2020. Since then, 268 cases have been identified; however, the prevalence of these substances likely exceed those reported. The number of nitazene cases rose to 171 in 2021, compared to 13 found in 2020. As of March 18, 84 cases had been identified in Florida. Nitazenes may appear in many common forms, including powder, liquid and counterfeit prescription pills.

The eight synthetic opioids Moody is emergency scheduling are:

  1. N-pyrrolidino etonitazene—10x more potent than fentanyl;
  2. Etodesnitazene—Up to 10x more potent than fentanyl;
  3. Isotonitazene—5x more potent than fentanyl;
  4. Protonitazene—2x more potent than fentanyl;
  5. Metonitazene—Equipotent to fentanyl;
  6. Butonitazene—20x less potent than fentanyl;
  7. Metodesnitazene—100x less potent than fentanyl; and
  8. Flunitazene—100x less potent than fentanyl.

Moody will work with state lawmakers during the 2023 legislative session to codify the nitazenes permanently as Schedule I controlled substances in Florida.

To educate Floridians on how to find help and how to spot someone who may be abusing drugs, Moody developed the Dose of Reality Florida website. The site serves as a one-stop resource to learn about the dangers of opioid misuse, how to receive support for addiction and where to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs.

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