Sen. Rick Scott announced the “Stop Fentanyl Package” law at a press conference in Pinellas County on Tuesday, saying the legislation will help solve Florida’s opioid crisis.
What do you want to know
- Florida Senator Rick Scott announced the “Stop Fentanyl Package” law in Pinellas County on Tuesday.
- Law enforcement officials with him at the time say the state’s opioid crisis is caused, at least in part, by current border policies.
- In Polk County, Pastor Kay Kasser and his ministry Combee Connections are working to ensure those struggling with addiction have enough to eat
Law enforcement in attendance backed Scott, arguing that the opioid crisis is partly due to border policies.
“Because of the open border, fentanyl comes from Southeast Asia, enters Mexico, crosses the California-Texas border, then goes to Atlanta, then comes here to Florida,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
Gualtieri said the price of fentanyl has risen from $95 per gram to $80 per gram, making it easier to acquire.
Polk County Pastor Kay Kasser says addiction is fueling the crisis.
“The truth is, a lot of people are addicted,” she said.
Kasser and his ministry at Combee Connections said everyone is welcome at his church, even those struggling with addiction. The church makes outreach efforts to ensure that everyone, including the homeless, drug addicts and criminals, has a meal to eat.
“People are going, ‘Well, you allow them,'” Kasser said. “Well, nowhere does it say that if I keep someone alive by feeding them and giving them basic nutrition, I’m allowing their drug use.”
A true testament to the work is what she says keeps her and her congregation motivated.
“The reality is that we have a lot of people who are addicted – that’s a reality,” Kasser said. “They’re so focused on getting high and meeting that need that they forget about food.”
So while Combee Connections Ministry in Lakeland welcomes everyone to her church, Kasser said she understands that sometimes some people need a little more help than others.
“It’s gotten so addictive that they seem to prefer fentanyl and heroin, or fentanyl and meth, over food,” she said. We feed them and teach them to know the Lord.
“For me, my drug addiction was cocaine and alcohol,” she continued, addressing her own addiction issues. “I wouldn’t go to a place for lunch if they didn’t serve alcohol.”
Kasser said she struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism more than 30 years ago. She said a scary situation that could have turned out much worse is what helped her get clean.
“I had a car accident with my daughter, who was only 9 at the time,” she said. “It scared me so much that after that day I stopped using.”
She says her journey led her to create the Combee Connections Ministry.
“It was God,” Kasser said. “We never planned to have a ministry – I’m a retired teacher, I moved here to be a grandmother but God had other plans.”
She said her department strongly supports the Stop Fentanyl Act that Scott announced on Tuesday.