The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would establish a drug court in the CNMI.
Legislators unanimously passed House Bill 19-94 last week on first and final reading. It has been transmitted to the Senate and, if approved, will go to Gov. Eloy S. Inos for signing.
The proposed legislation seeks to establish the drug court “within the Commonwealth Superior Court,” which will inform the Legislature of the funding needed to set up the drug court.
The bill was introduced by House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).
The “drug court” is different from a “regular” court because it will have “specialized” personnel handling drug cases.
According to Rep. Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan), the drug court will have a psychologist and treatment provider, among others, who are equipped with the necessary specialties to handle drug cases.
Guerrero, a former CNMI chief of Parole, said the drug court is an integral part of fighting drugs.
“The drug court can recommend different treatments. The court can recommend a diversion program, instead of incarceration,” he said.
He said the psychologist and treatment provider will assist the drug user to complete a prescribed program recommended by the court. And if the offender fails to complete the program, it is only then that incarceration becomes an option.
‘War on ice’
The bill was proposed to battle the proliferation of drug cases in the CNMI, in particular methamphetamine or “ice,” which lawmakers said has affected an alarming number of families and communities.
Rep. Antonio Sablan (Ind-Saipan) earlier said a majority of crimes committed are directly or indirectly related to “ice.”
In July, CNMI law enforcement agencies conducted a successful drug bust, and in the process confiscated about 12 kilos of “ice” valued at $4.3 million.
Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan) has earlier initiated a campaign against the illegal drug, while Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) introduced legislation against peddlers.
Propst’s proposed legislation seeks the forfeiture of the assets of convicted drug peddlers.