After much debate, the New Hampshire Senate Thursday voted to keep the state’s so-called drug forfeiture fund alive.
Under current law money or assets seized in a criminal drug bust are put into a special fund used to combat future drug crimes.
The original intent of the bill was to dissolve this special fund and put drug seizure money directly into the state's General Fund.
Backers of the bill argued that allowing police officers to benefit from the money they seize creates a conflict of interest. On average roughly $50,000 to $60,000 of seizure money is collected annually in New Hampshire.
But many Senators such as Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester stressed that the state should not be cutting money used to fight drugs in the middle of a crisis.
“There is no evidence that the forfeiture evidence has been used inappropriately. There is ample evidence that law enforcement is doing their job as we have instructed them to do,” D'Allessandro told his colleagues on the floor.
With this provision stricken, the bill would now merely require a criminal conviction before law enforcement could seize this property and process the forfeiture claim.
The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
On Thursday the Senate also voted to kill a bill that would have allowed illicit drugs to be collected at drug take-back programs and postponed a bill regarding needle exchange programs until next week.