Winner Notes Bipartisan Support For Meth Legislation

George Winner

March 11, 2005

Albany, N.Y.-- State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) today said that legislation to combat the use and manufacture of methamphetamine throughout New York is picking up key bipartisan support in the State Legislature.

Winner is sponsoring legislation in the Senate to address the growing problem.

Earlier this week members of the Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee convened an "emergency methamphetamine meeting" in Albany and expressed their support for enacting new meth-related laws this session. Winner’s legislation is being sponsored in the Assembly by a high-ranking leader, Assembly Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Island). Weisenberg is a former police officer in the city of Long Beach. The legislation has been referred to the Codes Committee in the Assembly.

In the Senate, Winner’s legislation was approved by the Codes Committee last week and is expected to be considered by the full Senate before the end of March.

"I’m encouraged by the growing bipartisan support for legislation to further protect the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region and communities statewide. It’s a strong signal that New York State will enact tough new meth laws this session," said Winner. "But we need to keep this bipartisan momentum for action moving forward."

Winner’s legislation 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";

> 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; and

> 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.

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