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HOPKINSVILLE, KY (3/6/12) – A bill that would levy harsh penalties on those who sell synthetic drugs is making its way through the General Assembly. Local authorities turned out Monday for a press conference to highlight the measures contained in House Bill 481. The bill was introduced by State Representative John Tilley.

At the press conference, Christian County Attorney Mike Foster explained why individual, local ordinances could not address the synthetic drug problem. He said a comprehensive approach through state legislation was the proper way to go for a solution.

Hopkinsville Police Chief Guy Howie commented on how this legislation will assist officers in our community, “Anytime we are able to put another tool in law enforcement’s toolbox to combat drugs or other criminal elements, this is absolutely important and you’re not going to get stronger support than there is right now.”

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Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Pryor added her support to this bill, “We take this very seriously and I think the outpouring of support here today by our law enforcement is proof that this is something that our officers are seeing every day. They see how serious it is, how it affects people.”

Representative Tilley began his comments by recounting the lives of those who have been impacted by the use of these drugs. He gave credit to local law enforcement for helping to quickly identify this growing problem.

Tilley says House Bill 481 is the most comprehensive measure yet to address the threat posed by synthetic drugs. He identified the source of the problem as those locations where you can purchase these substances. The law would impose penalties on first offense of fines that are double your profits from the sale of these drugs. Second and subsequent offenses would invoke full powers of forfeiture and seizure with all money received going to the local community for law enforcement efforts. These subsequent offenses would also be classified as Class D felonies. Establishments that sell alcohol would lose their ABC license as well.

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Tilley contrasted this proposed legislation with statutes already on the books for these types of drugs, “It’s different because we take what’s called the class approach. If there’s a compound we’ve previously banned or we identify that should be a banned substance, any class, any alteration of that will now be a banned substance or be illegal.”

House Bill 481 has been passed from committee. Tilley says he expects the House to pass it this week and has faith that it will also pass in the state Senate. He says this bill has an emergency clause where it goes into effect immediately after being signed by the Governor. Local officials encouraged citizens to contact their elected state officials to encourage passage of this legislation.

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David Bryant
SurfKY News

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