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Kentucky Lawmakers Renew Efforts Against Synthetic Drugs

Kentucky lawmakers are doubling down on efforts to fight synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs are chemically-altered substances meant to simulate other drugs. House Bill 481 would drastically increase penalties for crimes related to synthetic drugs. The measure is the General Assembly’s latest attempt to catch up with increasingly-popular methods of getting high.

The bill is sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley, who says law enforcement can’t keep up with changes to synthetic drugs' names and chemistry. Instead, his bill will regulate substances based on chemical make-up.

“Traffickers and manufacturers for first offense you can be fined at a maximum double the gain from the commission of your offense. In order words twice your profits. For those second and subsequent offenders, all the property forfeiture and seizure statues under current law exist today. You also now will lose your ability to sell alcohol and your ABC license,” Tilley says.

That last provision is aimed at convenience stores that sell synthetic drugs.

Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown says law enforcement officers are applauding the new bill.

“And I am extremely please that this legislature in this session, I’m sure will produce many weapons for us to attack the vast majority of drugs. These mind-altering drugs,” Brown says.

The bill is on the fast-track for passage, according to Tilley. It’s scheduled to be heard as soon as tomorrow and could come for a floor vote shortly after.

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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