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Florida's Marchman Act

Updated on June 25, 2011

Information Correct as of April 2011

Florida is known as the “Pill mill capital” of the United States. There are more prescription drug related deaths than there are deaths from guns and vehicles. Prescription drugs sold in Florida have been found at a lot of deaths in the Southeast United States. Prescription drugs from Florida have been found as far north as New York.

From January to June 2010, there were almost 90,000 deaths in the State of Florida. Of those 90,000 deaths, 4,150 died with at least one drug in their system. Oxycodone claimed 1,117 lives. Ethyl alcohol claimed 1,831 lives. Benzodiazepines, which are now listed among the date rape drugs, claimed 1,700 lives. Cocaine claimed 603 lives. One in seven people die per day in the State of Florida from a prescription drug overdose.

The Marchman Act, Florida Statute 397 is cited as "The Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act". The Marchman Act was established in 1993. Prior to 1993, The Myers Act was Florida Statute 396 and was for alcoholism. Prior to 1993, The Mahan Act was Florida Statute 397 and was for drug dependency.

There are several definitions for substance abuse in Florida Statute 397. According to Florida Statute 397.311 Definitions – As used in this chapter, except part VIII, the term: (36) “Substance abuse” means the misuse or abuse of, or dependence on alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications. As an individual progresses along this continuum of misuse, abuse, and dependence, there is an increased need for substance abuse intervention and treatment to help abate the problem. According to Florida Statute 397.331 Definitions; legislative intent, (1)(a) substance abuse is defined as “the use of any substance if such use is unlawful or if such use is detrimental to the user or to others, but is not unlawful.”

Florida has had laws regarding alcoholism and drug dependency since at least the 1920s. In 1920, the law regarding drug dependency was Chapter XXXI Persons addicted to excessive use of narcotic drugs. There have been treatment and rehabilitation centers set up since the 1920s. The Florida Hospital for the Insane was designated as a hospital for treatment and rehabilitation as early as 1920.

Florida Statute 398 was the Uniform Narcotic Drug Law in 1961. Paragraph 398.18 was titled Affidavits as to drug addicts; examination; commitment for treatment. Florida Statute 398.18(4) At the time and place specified in the notice, the judge shall hear and consider the evidence presented and the report of the narcotic officer or officers, and may, if he deems necessary, appoint a commission of two physicians who shall examine such person and certify to the court as to whether such person is an habitual user of narcotic drugs, as defined by Florida State 398.02. Upon being satisfied that the allegations of the affidavit are true, the judge shall make and file an order requiring the person so named or described to forthwith take and continue such treatment for the cure or withdrawal of such drug addiction at the hospital of the state prison, and shall commit said person to the hospital of the state prison until cured or free of the habit of using narcotic drugs…”

Substance abuse, whether drugs or alcohol, causes many different problems. These problems are not just within a family. These problems extend to the community, as well as the workplace. Florida Statute 397.305 Legislative findings, intent, and purpose.—(1) Substance abuse is a major health problem that affects multiple service systems and leads to such profoundly disturbing consequences as serious impairment, chronic addiction, criminal behavior, vehicular casualties, spiraling health care costs, AIDS, and business losses, and significantly affects the culture, socialization, and learning ability of children within our schools and educational systems. Substance abuse impairment is a disease which affects the whole family and the whole society and requires a system of care that includes prevention, intervention, clinical treatment, and recovery support services that support and strengthen the family unit.

The Marchman Act is an alternative to jail or even prison for adults and minors. The person can be held in the county jail while waiting for a bed to become available. If there is no petition, the person can only be held up to 72 hours. If there is a petition, a person can be held at the county jail until a bed becomes available. This time in jail will not be considered a criminal record. However, if the person is caught with drugs or drug paraphernalia on them when the officers pick the person up, under the Marchman Act, then there can be a charge for the drugs and/or drug paraphernalia.

There are two different types of admission under the Marchman Act. Florida Statute 397.677 is for non-court involved. This would include law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel. Alternative Involuntary Assessment for a Minor must be by a parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian. Siblings and friends of a minor cannot obtain a petition. Court-involved (F.S. 397.679) are Petitions for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization and Petitions for Involuntary Treatment.

There are not a maximum number of times a person can be made to stay in treatment. However, if a person does not comply with the court order, he or she can be incarcerated up to 180 days. This charge would be Contempt of Court. The Petition expires 12 days after the judge issues the petition. However, the petition can be filed as many times as needed.

Many people are “Baker Acted” because there are no beds available at the facilities for the Marchman Act. Funds at the facilities are limited for a Marchman Act bed. Every county handles the Marchman Act differently.

NOTE:  I am not an attorney.  This is for informational purpose only.


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      rorshak sobchak 6 years ago

      interesting laws. Great hub voting up :)