Taking action on the growing menace in New York State of methamphetamine use and methamphetamine labs, the New York State Assembly passed major legislation to combat this scourge which has spread across the country and threatens to rival the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s if not checked. This legislation, authored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, also has the support of the Governor and State Senate. Meth is a very powerful and highly addictive drug that many experts claim is more addictive and more dangerous than cocaine, heroin or other drugs.
Current law does not adequately deal with the manufacturing of methamphetamine; it precludes law enforcement agencies from charging with a crime persons who possess the ingredients required to make methamphetamine with the intent to manufacture the drug. The ingredients involved are legal products but when mixed together can be made into meth, such as liquid anhydrous ammonia used by farmers and the cold medicine pseudophedrine, making it difficult for law enforcement officials to build a case. The legislation amends state law to permit law enforcement to make an arrest when they discover an illegal meth lab. The problem with prosecuting meth manufacturing cases is that the defendants are rarely caught with the final product, just the ingredients.
Assemblyman Dinowitz held a hearing in early January on methamphetamine and hepatitis. Assemblyman Dinowitz said, "The testimony at the hearing on methamphetamine and hepatitis C made it clear to me that the manufacturing and use of methamphetamine is on the rise in big cities and rural areas across New York State. As chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, I intended to draft legislation that would not only help those suffering from methamphetamine abuse; but I also strongly felt that we had to give law enforcement officials the tools they needed to crack down on the manufacturing of methamphetamine. I wanted to send a strong message that meth labs will not be tolerated anywhere in New York."
The legislation is comprehensive and doesn’t just focus on penalties. It does the following:
a) Defines list of precursors to make methamphetamine;
(b) Strict penalties for manufacturing;
(c) Creates additional crimes for disposing of hazardous materials that are the result of a meth lab;
(d) Establishes a statewide repository of data to help law enforcement with ongoing investigations;
(e) Implements a statewide methamphetamine education program that will inform children and others on the risks of methamphetamine use and production;
(f) Facilitates the cooperation between the state police and the Department of Environmental Protection as they work together to clean up lab sites.
Assemblyman Dinowitz stated, "A 2002 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 12.4 million Americans age 12 and older had tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes. We simply cannot allow this problem to continue to grow. We need tough measures to immediately combat the production and consumption of methamphetamines in New York."