Thursday, January 20, 2005
Senate committee endorses meth legislation
The bill would increase the penalties for manufacturing methamphetamine.
The latest from our Blue Ridge Caucus politics blog
From The Roanoke Times
RICHMOND - A Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed legislation that would increase the penalties for manufacturing methamphetamine, the low-budget drug becoming increasingly popular in rural communities throughout Western Virginia.
Senate Bill 1121 would make it a felony to possess two or more ingredients of methamphetamine with the intent to manufacture the drug. The bill does not specify what quantity constitutes intent. The legislation, which received overwhelming support in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, is the first of roughly a dozen meth-related bills pending in the General Assembly.
Law enforcement officials have said that meth recently replaced the prescription drug OxyContin as the biggest problem drug in Southwest Virginia.
Police busted more than 80 meth labs in Virginia last year, compared with 34 in 2003.
Sen. Mark Obenshain, a Harrisonburg Republican whose district has also become a meth hot spot, predicted that his bill would help slow the meth manufacturing business before it becomes a statewide problem.
Obenshain's bill would make it a Class 6 felony - punishable by up to five years in prison - to possess two or more of the following substances with the intent to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine: anhydrous ammonia, ether, hypophosphorus acid solutions, hypophosphite salts, hydrochloric acid, iodine crystals or tincture, lawfully dispensed controlled substances, methylbenzene, sodium hydroxide, trichlorethane, 2-propanone and drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, or any of their salts, optical isomers, or salts of optical isomers.
Obenshain's bill must now receive clearance from the Senate Finance Committee before heading to the full Senate because it would probably send more people to jail, thereby increasing the state's correctional costs.