Newsbrief: Eyeing Stiffer Meth Penalties in West Virginia 1/10/03

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As methamphetamine makes its way east across the continent, so does the impulse to deal with the problem by legislating it out of existence. The latest example of reflexive responses to meth comes from West Virginia, where prosecutors are beating the drum for stiff new penalties against the popular stimulant. On Monday, Wood County Prosecutor Ginny Conley told the Parkersburg Sentinel that she has contacted key lawmakers on behalf of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Association to push legislation that would:

  • Make it a felony to assemble or possess chemicals with the intent to manufacture meth.
  • Expand the definition of "drug paraphernalia" to include equipment used to manufacture meth.
  • Increase the penalties for assembling, possessing and manufacturing meth. Under the prosecutors' draft proposal, an as yet unspecified mandatory minimum sentence would be imposed.
  • Make it a felony to "knowingly assemble or possess two or more chemicals in a quantity that may be used to manufacture." This proposed new crime, similar to one thrown out by a Nevada judge last month (, would be punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
  • Make it a felony to keep any building for the purpose of assembling meth precursor chemicals or storing or manufacturing meth. Violators would face five to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
According to Conley, harsh new meth legislation is needed because meth manufacture should be distinguished from less potentially dangerous drug manufacturing operations, such as marijuana grows. "Due to the extreme danger to the community posed by the dangerous fumes and chemicals used and produced by meth labs," meth manufacture needs more severe penalties, Conley said. "Meth trafficking and production are different than other drugs because they are dangerous from start to finish. The reckless practices of the untrained people who manufacture it in clandestine labs result in explosions and fires that can injure or kill not only the people and families involved, but also law enforcement or firemen who respond. Legislation is needed to address the use of meth, an extremely dangerous and addictive drug," Conley said.

Conley did not mention one other possible response to the problem of dangerous meth labs: Eliminate the need for them by making the drug available in a regulated fashion.

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Issue #271, 1/10/03 The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Mario Menéndez, Publisher of !Por Esto!, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | The Road to Mérida: Dr. Jaime Malamud-Goti, former Argentine Solicitor General | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Canada Cannabis Conundrum Continued: Government Will Appeal Ontario Ruling, Prosecutors to Put Possession Cases on Hold | Newsbrief: Eyeing Stiffer Meth Penalties in West Virginia | Newsbrief: First Local Salvia Divinorum Ordinance Proposed | Newsbrief: Huffington SUV-Terrorism Ad Parodies Drug Czar's Drug-Terrorism Campaign | Newsbrief: Corrupt Cops of the Week | Newsbrief: Ontario Court Clears Tokin' Motorist of DWI Charge | Newsbrief: Massachusetts Cops Slow to Act on Racial Profiling Law | Newsbrief: New Jersey Seeks to Delay Ban on Asset Forfeiture, Will Appeal Ruling | Newsbrief: Federal Court Ruling on No-Knock Search Raises Questions About Standard Procedure in Kansas City | Web Scan: Maia Szalavitz in Slate, GAO on Colombia Coca, Globe and Mail on Ontario Marijuana Ruling | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar

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