Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 2004
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2004 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Elane Jones
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Those fighting the war against the manufacturing of methamphetamine in 
Walker County are hoping a new piece of legislation introduced recently in 
Alabama passes, for it will make fighting that war a little simpler.

Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, recently introduced new legislation that will 
not only assess the cost of forensic testing and cleanup associated with 
meth labs from those convicted of the crime, but also modify existing laws. 
It will reduce the number of precursor substances an individual can possess 
and allow for the prosecution of those providing the chemicals used to make 
the illegal drug.

"This is a really good piece of legislation that will make our job much 
easier and save the taxpayers a lot of money if it passes," said Walker 
County Narcotics Enforcement Team director Paul Kilgore. "It has cost 
several thousand dollars to clean some of the labs we've seized in Walker 
County, so you can imagine what it has cost the taxpayers statewide."

The NET unit, many other law enforcement agencies around the state, and 
hazardous materials teams have put in extensive man-hours cleaning up and 
processing evidence associated with the meth labs. Much of the evidence 
collected at these labs is sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic 
Sciences to be analyzed. The cost for all of this comes out of taxpayers' 

"In the last two years we have seen this deadly drug spread to epidemic 
proportions throughout Alabama," Barron said. "We must do everything we can 
to stop this deadly drug from destroying our communities and the lives of 
those associated with it. This is why we are working with law enforcement 
officers to make tougher laws that will apply to the manufacturing of this 
toxic substance."

One section of the new law, known as SB386, will require courts in Alabama 
to assess restitution for the cost of forensic analysis and cleanup of an 
illegal laboratory from the person convicted of a controlled substance 
offense or of operating an illegal laboratory.

"I believe the one who committed this crime, not the taxpayers, should pay 
for the costs incurred in cleaning up and handling this toxic material," 
Barron said.

Barron also added two additional pieces of legislation to the package that 
will modify laws already in existence.

SB380 clarifies that it is illegal to possess any single precursor 
substance or substances with the intent to unlawfully manufacture a 
controlled substance. As the law currently reads, the individual or 
individuals have to be in possession of more than one substance before it 
is considered illegal.

"Those cooking this deadly substance have used runners to purchase 
individual items as a way to circumvent the existing law," Barron explained.

SB385 closes another potential loophole in the law by clarifying that 
merchants who sell these precursor substances with the knowledge of their 
intended illegal use are also violating the law.

"We must fight the manufacture and use of this deadly drug at all levels - 
from beginning to end and that's what this package of legislation will do," 
Barron said. "It will provide law enforcement agents with the tools to 
discourage the knowing sale of products used to make meth, it will aid in 
their prosecution of those cooking the drug and it will give the courts a 
means to obtain restitution from those who do manufacture it.

"We do not want to put additional inmates in our prisons, but we simply 
cannot allow them to continue to harm our society."

Kilgore said he believed the additions Barron added to the new legislation 
were also excellent because it will hinder individuals from getting the 
components needed to make illegal drugs.

"Any legislation we can get to stop the sale of the components being used 
to manufacture illegal drugs will benefit not only law enforcement, but the 
people of Alabama as well," Kilgore said. "The only way we're going to stop 
this stuff from being manufactured and sold in our communities is to make 
it harder to get. After all, if they can't get it, they can't make it, so 
they can't sell it."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager