Pubdate: Thu, 13 May 2004
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Oak Ridger
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Tennessee)


The Jackson Sun, May 6 A bill is moving through the legislature which would 
increase the penalties substantially for making or dealing methamphetamine.

It should be sent to the governor, but should be only the beginning.

The bill would make the manufacture or sale of half a gram of meth a Class 
B felony, punishable by eight to 30 years in prison. That's the same 
penalty given to those convicted of making or dealing cocaine or crack. 
Currently, the crime of making or dealing meth is a Class C felony, 
punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Increasing the state's meth penalties just makes sense. That sends the 
right message that the state is serious about dealing with this growing 
epidemic. And it helps get meth dealers and manufacturers off the streets 
and in jail where they belong.

If lawmakers want to get serious about dealing with the scourge of meth and 
arresting the growing epidemic, they must do more than increase jail terms. 
They must look at dealing with the root of the problem: the addiction itself.

Currently, our state has an appalling shortage of treatment facilities for 
those struggling with addictions. That has to change. Creating new drug 
treatment programs may be expensive on the front end. But this year, the 
state has excess tax revenues which could top $100 million. This would be a 
wise investment for that money.

Increasing meth penalties is an important step toward confronting a growing 
problem in Tennessee. But it should be only the beginning of a much broader 
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