Governor Sonny Perdue Proposes Legislation to Target Methamphetamine Production, Sale and Possession
|Thursday, February 27, 2003||
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Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue today submitted legislation to the Georgia Senate that stiffens criminal penalties for the sale and possession of methamphetamine and criminalizes the transport of materials used in its illegal manufacture.
"Illegal drugs continue to have a disastrous effect on our society. The health of Georgians and the safety of our families and children are compromised by the presence of illegal drugs," said Governor Perdue. "We cannot stand aside and ignore the alarming increase in Georgia's methamphetamine production, sale, and possession. We must act decisively by enacting and enforcing stronger penalties that will help protect our communities."
The bill is jointly authored by Georgia State Senators Bill Stephens (R- Canton) and Daniel Lee (R- LaGrange), Governor Perdue's Senate floor leaders.
Methamphetamine Poses Public Safety and Public Health Threat
State data provided by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) confirms that methamphetamine may be more additive than heroin. Its harmful effects can include addiction, psychotic behavior, and brain damage. Chronic usage can cause violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, and paranoia. The brain damage that results from methamphetamine usage is similar to Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and epilepsy.
Methamphetamine continues to gain popularity among older teenagers and adults thirty-five and younger. The alarming trends of methamphetamine production are further supported by numerous state and national statistics including:
- Each individual producing methamphetamine will teach 10 others to produce the drug. Proliferation of production has caused a 50% reduction in the street level price of methamphetamine within the past two years.
- The growth of methamphetamine production is so widespread that 25% of drug-related federal sentences in Georgia were methamphetamine-related, compared to 15% nationwide.
- The GBI and its supervised Drug Task Force seized 148 clandestine labs in 2002 and is on track to reach higher numbers during the current fiscal year.
Stiffer Penalties for Offenses Involving Methamphetamine and Related Ingredients
The proposed methamphetamine legislation provides penalties for the unlawful possession and transport of anhydrous ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia, a widely used source of nitrogen fertilizer, is also a key ingredient used to produce methamphetamine. Any person in violation of this provision will be treated as a felony, carrying prison time of one to ten years and fined in an amount not to exceed $100,000. Proposed civil monetary penalties would not to exceed $25,000 for each transport violation.
The bill also provides heightened penalties for the manufacture of methamphetamine, amphetamine, or any mixture of both substances. If the quantity involved is less than 200 grams, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 10 years and a fine of $200,000. If the quantity involved is between 200 and 400 grams, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 15 years and a fine of $300,000. If the quantity involved is 400 grams or more, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 25 years and a fine of $1 million.
Separately, with only a few exceptions, the proposed legislation treats the possession of any product that contains ephedrine, psuedoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine -- in an amount that exceeds 300 pills, tablets, gel caps, capsules, or other individual units of more than 9 grams of ephedrine, psuedoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, or a combination of any of these substances, whichever is smaller -- as a felony.
The legislation also makes it a felony to: (1) possess any of the above mentioned substances with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine amphetamine; and (2) possess, control, manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, purchase, sell, or possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, amphetamine, or any substance containing any amounts of ephedrine, psuedoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, or other related substances which have been altered from their original condition so as to be powdered, liquefied, or crushed.