Be concerned about meth

Do you know that the fastest-rising drug problem in the country is methamphetamines, or “meth” ? It is a highly addictive drug that destroys people’s lives.

Meth labs – the secret locations where this dangerously addictive drug is made – have sprung up throughout the state. They are being set up faster than police can find them and shut them down.

The volatile/flammable chemicals used to make the drug, such as anhydrous ammonia, pose a serious danger to communities and to law enforcement. In addition, the so-called “precursor” substances for the manufacture of meth are available legally in drug stores. Pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine, used properly, are decongestants that relieve nasal discomfort caused by colds, allergies, and hay fever. Some brand names of pseudoephedrine include Afrin, Sinutab, and Sudafed.

Early in 2005, the State Commission on Investigation issued a report, Methamphetamine Use and Manufacture, which warned that the rapid growth in the drug’s use and manufacture “poses an urgent threat to public health and safety and without new and tougher laws to combat the threat, New York could become a haven for methamphetamine users and manufacturers.”

The states surrounding New York had already strengthened their laws regarding the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines. Yet under then-current New York law, when police discovered these labs, they were unable to arrest the operators unless they actually found meth present. As a result, many meth manufacturers had moved their dangerous activities into New York State, where such activities were not illegal.

The state senate responded with several initiatives to address the problem. The most comprehensive was legislation that cracks down on the production of dangerously addictive methamphetamines by establishing tough criminal penalties for possessing the materials used to make meth and operating the laboratories used to manufacture the drug. The legislation made possession of a precursor, a chemical reagent, or a solvent with the intent to use it to manufacture meth a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class E felony for a second conviction within 5 years; made it a Class E felony to possess a precursor and a solvent or chemical reagent at the same time with intent to use it to manufacture meth; created three degrees of unlawful manufacture of meth, ranging from a Class D to a Class B felony; made unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory material a Class E felony; required that certain mandated child abuse reporters who travel in their work to places where children reside be trained to help them recognize the presence of meth labs; directed the state police to create a statewide repository of data relating to meth labs and local law enforcement agencies to report such information to the repository; and mandated informational programs on meth for vulnerable persons and for retailers.

The senate also passed a bill creating The Drug Dealer Registration Act, modeled on the Sex Offender Registration Act. Specifically, the legislation requires individuals who are found guilty of certain drug offenses to register for a 5 year period with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS); requires DCJS to notify the local law enforcement agency of the municipality in which the individual resides; provides for community notification of the individual’s whereabouts; and subjects those who commit a subsequent “drug dealer offense” to a mandatory registration for a 10 year period (S. 5980, PS, 2007 and 2008).

Meth is dangerous and poses a challenge for families and for law enforcement. We have to redouble our efforts to stop its use and production.

Senator Seward’s office web site is

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