Senate Approves Winner's Legislation Outlawing Operation of 'Controlled Substance Establishment'

George Winner

March 17, 2005

Albany, N.Y.--

The New York State Senatehas approved legislation sponsored by State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) that would make it a felony crime for property owners to intentionally allow methamphetamine manufacturers and dealers to operate on their premises.

"This action is the beginning of what I hope will be a comprehensive, bipartisan effort this session to address the addiction, violence and tragedy that are the by-products of rampant methamphetamine use and manufacture," said Winner. "I know that the Senate will continue to act. We need to do everything we can to encourage the enactment of tough new meth laws this session."

The legislation approved by the Senate would create a new felony crime for "operating a controlled substance establishment." Property owners would be held criminally responsible for "knowingly and intentionally" allowing meth manufacturers and sellers to operate on the premises they own.

It now goes to the Assembly, where’s it’s sponsored by Assembly Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Island), a former police officer in the city of Long Beach. The measure has been referred to the Assembly Codes Committee.

Winner is also sponsoring a separate piece of legislation in the Senate to make it easier to prosecute manufacturers of the illegal drug, commonly known as "meth," and to create a new class of felony crime for operating a meth drug lab in a residential neighborhood. That legislation, which is expected to be acted on soon, would:

> expand the scope of New York’s drug laws to make it easier to prosecute meth lab operators. Federal law imposes tough criminal penalties on people who, with the intent to manufacture meth, possess just one of a number of listed ingredients. New York's current controlled substances "precursor law" punishes only those who possess a combination of chemicals with the intent to illegally manufacture a drug. Winner’s legislation would note the particular hazards of meth production by adopting the federal standard that only one of a designated list of ingredients must be found in the possession of a person, who a jury concludes intends to manufacture meth, in order to support a felony conviction of "criminal possession of precursors of controlled substances"; and

> create a new felony crime for the "criminal manufacture of methamphetamine in or near a residence." Strict penalties would be imposed for setting up or operating illegal meth labs within 500 feet of a dwelling. Since meth manufacturing includes the use of highly explosive, flammable and toxic chemicals, meth labs pose a significant public health and safety threat if located in residential neighborhoods.

Winner is also currently co-sponsoring legislation designed to combat the theft and restrict the availability of anhydrous ammonia and pseudoephedrine, two key ingredients in meth manufacturing.

Meth-related action in the Legislature continues to gain ground following a state report earlier this year warning that methamphetamine will become an increasingly dire public health and safety threat unless New York adopts new and tougher laws to combat the drug’s proliferation. The report by the State Commission of Investigation (SIC), "Methampehtamine Use & Manufacture," warned that the drug’s rapidly growing 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." It highlighted the Southern Tier as a hotbed of criminal meth activity in New York State.

"I don’t like it when the Southern Tier is singled out as an attractive destination for meth manufacturers and dealers. We can’t sit back and allow our region to provide a harbor for these illegal operations," said Winner.