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House passes measure to penalize businesses engaged in drug activities

THE House of Representatives on Friday passed House Bill 20-26 which proposes to penalize businesses engaged in drug-related activities.

All 18 members present voted yes to the bill introduced by Rep. Edwin Propst.

According to the measure, which now goes to the Senate, certain businesses in the commonwealth are engaged in drug-related activities.

The House Committee on Commerce and Tourism chaired by Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero reviewed the measure, and noted in its report that the Division of Customs Services intercepted 28 pounds of ice with an estimated value of $5 million in containerized cargo brought in from China by a freight forwarding company in 2016.

If the bill becomes law, any forwarding company responsible for smuggling ice into the CNMI will be penalized.

Propst introduced the same measure in the 19th Legislature and it was also passed by the House but not by the Senate.

The key provision of House Bill 20-26 reads:

“In addition to any criminal fees, fines and penalties, any person who has been issued a business license who violates any provision under this Chapter shall be penalized by: 1st offense a fine of no less than $100,000 or an amount equal to the street value whichever is greater and revocation of license up to one year; 2nd offense a fine of no less than $250,000 or an amount equal to the street value whichever is greater and permanent revocation of license. Fines collected…shall be appropriated as follows: 25 percent to the Department of Public Safety for drug enforcement purposes; 25 percent to the Division of Customs for drug enforcement purposes; 25 percent to the CNMI Drug Court as established by Public Law 19-14 and 25 percent to the Community Guidance Center for drug-related rehabilitation.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94733-house-passes-measure-to-penalize-businesses-engaged-in-drug-activities

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