House bill targets out-of-state drug dealers

LANSING – Menominee County Sheriff Kenny Marks and Menominee City Police Chief Brett Botbyl joined state Rep. Ed McBroom before the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday to provide testimony supporting House Bill 4889, which the lawmaker sponsored to enhance sentencing penalties for transporting illegal drugs over state lines.

The measure was prompted by an increased influx of illegal drugs crossing over Michigan’s border initially recognized by Menominee-area law enforcement departments, McBroom said.

“We’ve successfully taken steps to make dangerous products illegal and remove them from local store shelves in Michigan, but now the bad guys are threatening the safety and well-being of our children and our communities by bringing these and other controlled substances over the border,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan. “Our law enforcement officers continue to fight an unending battle against the drugs and those who deal them, so this measure can provide another weapon to slow the enemy and protect our residents.”

The bill does not set the increased penalties directly for a person convicted of a controlled substance offense, but it adds points to the sentencing guideline if the offender travelled from another state to Michigan with the intent to deliver illegal drugs.

The additional sentencing points could result in county jail time instead of probation, prison time instead of county jail lock up, and longer minimum prison sentences before parole eligibility, depending on the offense magnitude and the offender’s prior convictions.

Controlled substances covered by McBroom’s bill include those classified in Schedule 1 or 2 of the Public Health Code, which are narcotic drugs, hallucinogens, cocaine, methamphetamines and various so-called “party or designer drugs,” such as the date rape drug GHB, CAT, ecstasy, and bath salts.

HB 4889 remains before the House Criminal Justice Committee for consideration.