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Feb 18, 2016 6:09 PM

NH lawmakers consider bill that would create a state drug dealer registry

NH1.com

CONCORD - Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require convicted drug dealers to provide their information to a registry.

The concept is similar to the sex offender registry, said bill sponsor Jim Belanger, R-Hollis.

A person would have to be convicted of dealing drugs three times before being required to register. The stark difference between the sex offender registry and Belanger's proposed one is that the drug registry would not be accessible to the public. It would solely be used for law enforcement purposes, Belanger said.

"We have a drug problem; why don't we try to do something that we haven't tried before," Belanger said.

A study by Dartmouth College students looked at five other states that currently have variations of a drug registry.

Those states include Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

New Hampshire would likely add less than 500 people to the registry each year, according to the study.

The costs of the program are unclear, but money is one sticking point for opponents.

"If that money was used toward treatment, prevention or recovery support, the outcomes would be definitely better," said Cheryle Pacapelli with New Futures.

Others are concerned that a registry would not deter drug dealers and that it would be an administrative burden to update and track registrants.

The bill is under consideration by committee members who will decide if whether to recommend the bill when it goes to a full vote.

A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

Colleen Shaughnessy is a multimedia journalist for NH1 News. You can email her at cshaughnessy@nh1.com and follow her on Twitter, @ColleenNH1.

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