Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday outlawed a designer drug she said has been blamed for multiple deaths in Florida.
Bondi signed an emergency rule targeting the drug — a synthetic opiate called U-47700 — during a news conference at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Ocala. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the substance lacks any acceptable medical use but has a high potential for abuse.
“Synthetic drugs are ruining lives and destroying families, and we must do everything in our power to protect Floridians from these dangerous substances — that is why today I have emergency scheduled U-47700 and will continue to work with law enforcement to identify and outlaw harmful synthetic drugs as they appear,” Bondi said.
Sheriff Emery Gainey said he has not yet seen the drug in Marion County. Even so, “we are seeing more and more dangerous synthetic drugs affecting our communities here in North Central Florida,” he said. “It is my duty to ensure the safety of our citizens.”
Also attending were Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz and Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum.
Bondi’s emergency rule designates U-47700 as a Schedule I controlled substance. The Associated Press reported in June the drug is 50 times more potent than morphine and has been connected to at least 50 deaths nationally.
Symptoms can include decreased blood pressure, intestinal bleeding, loss of consciousness, vomiting, and more, Bondi said.
Her office said it usually is found in powder or granular form, pressed into pills, or in liquid form ingested through inhalers.
Bondi has worked with the Legislature to outlaw 136 individual chemical compounds and has supported legislation outlawing several categories of synthetic drugs, her office said. U-47700 is structurally different from any scheduled opioid, however, and isn’t covered under existing law.