MADISONVILLE, Ky. (3/4/14) — State Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville, announced a new bill that would increase penalties for possession and trafficking of synthetic drugs.
The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at the Hopkins County Attorney's office in downtown Madisonville.
Waide, 10th District representative, called a press conference to explain HB 495, co-written by him and state Rep. Myron Dossett. He was joined by County Attorney Todd P'Pool and Madisonville Police Chief Wade Williams.
Each spoke of the dangers of synthetic drugs and how they're being consumed.
“Recently, I was contacted by prosecutors here in Hopkins County,” said Waide. “We talked a lot about the increase in use in synthetic drugs — not just synthetic marijuana but all synthetic drugs.”
Waide said that in 2012, a groundbreaking legislation was passed, which made a difference for law enforcement in the state. But after consulting with various groups, Waide believes that measure is not enough.
“Last week, I met with Terry Mosser, who is the Kentucky state coordinator for drug evaluation and classification at Eastern Kentucky University,” said Waide. “He was expressing to me his concern because of the rise in the use of electronic cigarettes, we now have a very simple and user-friendly delivery device for these synthetic drugs.”
Waide said users take synthetic drugs and place them in the electronic cigarettes, which appear to be legal nicotine-based products.
Since the synthetic drugs don't show up in typical urine tests, it's become prolific and poses many dangers.
“When you pass a bill you hope that it has a positive effect, and we know that our 2012 bill had a positive effect,” said Waide. “I talked with two doctors from Baptist Health, and they said, 'Ben, I've seen a patient that had just taken this drug one time. And, a month later, he's still psychotic.' So, we really do have to do something at this point to make it more difficult for these folks to use synthetic drugs.”
HB 495 would be an amendment to KRS 218A.1430.
It would restructure the weight of the charge for trafficking in synthetic drugs.
Instead of a Class A Misdemeanor, it would become a Class D Felony for the first offense if the amount trafficked is one ounce or greater, and a Class A Misdemeanor if the amount trafficked is less than one ounce. Regardless of the amount trafficked, it would be a Class C Felony for each subsequent offense.
After Waide's announcement, the county attorney addressed the press.
“I want to applaud Rep. Waide for this piece of legislation,” said P'Pool. “It will clearly make Kentucky a safer place. It will make families safer across the Commonwealth. This bill actually enhances the penalty for possession and trafficking of synthetic cannabis. That is a manufactured chemical that is as deadly as meth.”
P'Pool quoted statistics about Hopkins County drug deaths and the increase in synthetic drug deaths.
Williams explained a bust that occurred in 2012 that revolved around synthetic marijuana or cannabinoid.
“What's the scary part is the instant and lasting effects of these drugs,” said Williams. “It's starting to become more and more popular with the young and middle aged thinking it's not as dangerous as some other drug. But we are seeing from the street, more serious consequences from this drug than we've ever seen from anything.”
Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKy News Director
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