New meth law could take effect if passed in Senate

Mar. 04, 2013 @ 04:28 PM

Drug dealers or anyone else making methamphetamine could face more time behind bars and be banned from having the drug’s main ingredients under a new law, if passed.
House Bill 29 passed in the state House on Feb. 20, 116-1, and is in the Senate now under judiciary review. If passed by the Senate, the bill would make it a felony for any convicted meth cook to possess products containing pseudoephedrine. The drug is found in some cold medicines and is the key ingredient to making the illegal drug methampetamine.
The legislation, sponsored by Representatives Craig Horn, John Faircloth, Joe Tolson and Sarah Stevens, would also mean stiffer sentences for criminals who make meth around children, seniors or the disabled.  
Lieutenant Marty Ferrell, with the High Point Police Department, said the city does not have a whole lot of labs. He said that before they came out with the restrictions on the pseudoephedrine, the city would see meth labs that had spilled over from Randolph County. He said the restriction almost wiped out the problem immediately.
“Right now, if you have been convicted of manufacturing methampetamine, which is a felony, you could still possess pseudoephedrine,” Ferrell said. “What’s proposed would increase the penalties for manufacturing methampetamine to a higher class of felony if you’re convicted. As far as pseudoephedrine, if this law passes, you won’t be able to possess any amount of pseudoephedrine.”
Meth lab busts reached a high for the state in 2012 as a simpler method, called the one-pot method, for making small amounts of the drug spread.
The new method uses a small amount of pseudoephedrine to cook meth in a plastic soda bottle. The new law would make it illegal for a convicted meth cook to have any pseudoephedrine.
State Bureau of Investigation agents responded to 460 meth labs in 2012 compared to 344 meth labs in 2011 and 235 labs in 2012, according to a report by the attorney general’s office. The report also states that the agents have busted more than 70 so far in 2013.
“The one-pot cook has changed the dynamics a little but what it really does is eliminate a lot of the odor,” Ferrell said. “In the old meth labs, it created such a smell that you could not do it without getting caught. That is one reason the labs are more prominent in rural areas.”
Ferrell said that while it is not a huge concern for the city, the department still keeps an eye on the sale of pseudoephedrine. He said the law would have more of an impact with the courts but the police still plan to arrest those who abuse the drug.
“The pseudoephedrine is tracked and we do monitor that,” Ferrell said. “We look for people who have bought over the amount or the maximum amount. We keep an eye on it to make sure that people who are purchasing pseudoephedrine in the area are not purchasing over the limits.”

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