Senate committee approves boosting penalty for drug possession

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A Senate committee has approved a bill that increases the penalty for possessing heroin and cocaine.

Supporters say the bill, passed unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, is targeted at out-of-state drug dealers, to stop the flow of drugs into Vermont.

It makes the possession of smaller amounts of the two drugs eligible for trafficking charges.

Two weeks ago the committee approved a bill that would relax penalties on Vermonters caught with small amounts of marijuana.

Under the latest bill, trafficking charges would kick in for the possession of 150 grams cocaine and 3.5 grams of heroin, with penalties of up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, the sponsor of the bill, says the amount of drugs outlined in the legislation ensures that those arrested are dealing drugs.

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