I am pleased to report that Governor George Pataki recently signed into law a bill I co-sponsored to impose tougher penalties on those who take part in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, an illegal and highly addictive drug.
This new legislation amends the current penal laws to create specific crimes and penalties for the manufacturing of methamphetamine. The law also makes it illegal to possess methamphetamine manufacturing material or to dispose of methamphetamine lab materials, and it removes legal obstacles in order to help law enforcement officials arrest and prosecute when a methamphetamine lab is discovered.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "Methamphetamine has become the most dangerous drug problem of small-town America. Traffickers make and distribute the drug in some of our country’s most rural areas. Twelve to fourteen year olds that live in smaller towns are 104 percent more likely to use methamphetamine than those who live in larger cities." This drug is not only addictive, it can cause serious damage to a person's kidneys and lungs.
The Commission of Investigation of New York State released a report earlier this year on methamphetamine use and manufacture in this State. In the opening summary of the report, the Commission states that in addition to creating problems in urban areas, meth is causing an increase in criminal activity is rising in rural communities. "In the rural Southern Tier and North Country the drug is often manufactured in highly toxic and potentially explosive clandestine laboratories by addicts who put their families, neighbors, police and emergency personnel at extreme risk," according to the report. It goes on to cite statistics from the State Police that from 1989 through 1999, "there were only four methamphetamine laboratory incidents reported in the entire State. Since then, the number of labs has risen quickly and steadily, from 8 in 2000 to 19 in 2001, 45 in 2002 and 73 in 2003."
The Commission's report also stated that the increase of methamphetamine in New York is due in part to producers fleeing other states. "As one member of the Chemung County District Attorney's Office indicated, as more pressure is applied in Pennsylvania, more methamphetamine manufacturers will move to New York State," the Commission reported.
Part of the problem is that some of the ingredients for making methamphetamine are a part of everyday life. One ingredient is chemical anhydrous ammonia, a legal chemical farmers use for agricultural purposes. Law enforcement officials have to not only worry about illegal methamphetamine labs, but also about theft and other criminal activities as some individuals steal the chemical from unsuspecting farmers. The new law establishes specific felony-level penalties for the theft of anhydrous ammonia and for the criminal possession of such stolen property.