Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

Toughening Laws On Meth

February 27, 2006
Editorial By Courant

Legislation proposed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell last week would raise the stakes in several ways for criminals who manufacture and traffic in methamphetamine, a drug that is an addictive stimulant and whose social ravages are only now becoming known to the Northeast.

Mrs. Rell's proposal calls for stiffened criminal penalties for selling or producing meth, which also goes by the street names "ice," "crystal" and "glass." Under her bill, a first offense could be punished by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000; a second offense could carry a sentence of up to 30 years and a maximum fine of $100,000. Subsequent offenses could trigger an automatic 30-year prison term with a maximum $250,000 fine.

Possessing paraphernalia used in the manufacture of meth would call for harsh penalties.

Mrs. Rell's proposal would also re-classify two active ingredients commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines - pseudoephedrine and ephedrine - as controlled substances, making them available only by prescription. Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are key ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Requiring prescriptions for these medications would make it harder for smaller-scale meth labs to ply their trade. But lawmakers ought to consider whether such a requirement would be unduly burdensome to consumers. Instead, the law could require that such drugs be placed behind the counter, dispensed only by pharmacists and in limited amounts.

Another key feature of Mrs. Rell's proposal calls for creating a fund for cleaning up the toxic residue of meth labs. Meth cooking involves an array of household chemicals - drain cleaner, antifreeze, matches and batteries. Besides being highly explosive, the process generates an estimated 5 to 7 pounds of toxic sludge for every pound of drug. The waste gets dumped in toilets or sinks or on the ground, creating hazards for the environment and public health. Under the governor's plan, people convicted of manufacturing meth would have to reimburse the state for the cost of that cleanup.

If the experiences in the West and Midwest are any indication, meth is a drug unequalled in the threat it poses to society, the environment and public health. From production to consumption, its effects are uniquely ruinous. Legislation such as Mrs. Rell's will help the state address this threat in its earliest stages. But enforcement must be part of a broader strategy that also emphasizes education and treatment.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?