Tuesday, February 12, 2013

House is debating ceding authority to governor to determine whether substance is illegal

HB 242 is before the House right now. It would turn over to the governor the Legislature's authority to determine whether or not a substance should be considered by our courts as a Schedule I controlled substance.

This is a dangerous, dangerous bill.  Sure, the governor could only add a substance on a temporary basis, but still, he could do it.

Imagine the following scenario:  The governor doesn't care for a certain person.  He knows that certain person has an affinity for weight loss drugs.  He could name an ingredient contained in weight loss drugs as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal.  Governor then, by executive order, has made the person he dislikes guilty of violating the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, and subject to penalties thereof.  Penalties, by the way, that could include 30 years in prison and a $1M fine.

***UPDATE*** - Contrary to what the bill appears to say, the House is being told that there can be no criminal prosecution under this bill until the Legislature acts.  No matter what the House thinks it's doing, that's just not what they're doing with this bill.

***UPDATE 2*** - Bill passes the House, but I don't think it will wind up becoming law as written.  I've received word that the intent is to allow for the seizure of the drugs deemed Schedule I by executive order.  I think that can be done with some different language and without giving civil libertarians like me a heart attack.

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