Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2004
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Proposal Would Make Prosecution Easier

FRANKFORT - A prosecutor appealed to lawmakers yesterday to make it
easier to prosecute methamphetamine makers and curb what she described
as an increasingly sophisticated and violent business.

Gale Cook, commonwealth's attorney for Calloway and Marshall counties,
wants the General Assembly to solve a problem the Kentucky Supreme
Court created for prosecutors last year.

The court ruled in June that a suspect must be caught with all
ingredients needed for meth.

Meth cases were already problematic for law enforcement officials
because the drug is made with legal ingredients and equipment, such as
cold tablets and disposable batteries.

Compounding the problem is that authorities don't always find all the
ingredients or equipment, Cook said.

She cited a Marshall County case in which authorities uncovered a meth
lab but didn't find a key component -- the farm fertilizer anhydrous

The anhydrous had been stored in a freezer. But it was not there when
police opened the freezer lid although "it almost knocked them over
from the odor," said Cook, president of the state Commonwealth's
Attorney's Association.

But without the anhydrous, prosecutors couldn't press charges for meth
manufacturing under the court ruling, she said.

The panel heard lengthy testimony but took no vote on a proposal that
amounted to a byproduct of multiple meth bills. It says possession of
the necessary equipment and at least two ingredients, or precursors,
can be used as evidence of an intent to manufacture meth.

The list of precursors would be expanded to include red phosphorus,
lithium and anhydrous ammonia.

Kentucky law already forbids possession of a precursor with intent to
manufacture meth. The new legislation would set higher penalties --
five to 10 years in prison for a first offense and 10 to 20 years for
subsequent offenses.
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