Newsbrief: North Carolina Prosecutor Charges Methamphetamine Cook with Terrorist Offense 7/18/03

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You think you've seen every possible bit of silly drug war overreaching, but then comes along someone like North Carolina's Watauga County district attorney Jerry Wilson to prove you wrong. According to a Wednesday report in the Winston-Salem Journal, Wilson has charged a local man with two counts of manufacturing a nuclear or chemical weapon after he was busted cooking methamphetamine in his home last week. It is a novel use of a state law designed to confront "the terrorist threat," but instead of ridiculing the overzealous prosecutor, North Carolina law enforcement and political officials are praising him.

"This is a two-edged sword," Wilson said. "Not only is the drug methamphetamine in itself a threat to both society and those using it, but the toxic compounds and deadly gases created as side products are also real threats. I feel that, as a prosecutor, I have to address this. Something has to be done to protect society." He told the newspaper he decided to use the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) law as he researched ways to stop the advance of amphetamine in the region. The 12-year-to-life sentence on the WMD charge is more than he can get with a meth charge, usually 30 months.

Attorney General Roy Cooper thought it was a great idea, a spokesman told the Journal. "Attorney General Cooper worked with the governor and the legislature to toughen anti-terrorism laws, and he supports efforts to use the laws of our state to protect North Carolinians from potential terrorist activities and dangerous drug production," the spokesman said. So did Watauga County Sheriff Mark Shook. "I love it," Shook said. "Now instead of laughing at you when you charge someone, they're going to go 'Whoa.' This really gives us something we can use."

It is unclear how many people find a three-year prison sentence something to laugh about, but just in case defendant David Miller was giggling, Wilson, in a fine example of prosecutorial overcharging, also charged him with one count each of manufacturing a controlled substance (methamphetamine), maintaining a dwelling place for a controlled substance, and possession of the immediate precursor chemicals with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance. But wait, there's more. He was also charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance, one count of maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance, one count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction (an automatic firearm) and two counts of possession of the immediate precursor chemicals. And just in case, there are not one, but two, counts of manufacturing WMDs.

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Issue #296, 7/18/03 Editorial: Tragic Confusion | Medical Marijuana Eroding Capitol Hill Prohibition Consensus -- Democrats Also On Attack against Drug Czar, Drug War in General | With Hip-Hopper's Support, NY Governor Tries Again on Rockefeller Law Reform -- Not Good Enough, Say Critics | Bush, Ashcroft Ask Supreme Court for Permission to Punish Doctors Who Recommend Medical Marijuana | DRCNet Book Review: "Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America," by Ted Galen Carpenter (2003, Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95) | Newsbrief: North Carolina Prosecutor Charges Methamphetamine Cook with Terrorist Offense | Newsbrief: Whites Benefit from California's Proposition 36 Disproportionately, UCLA Study Finds | Newsbrief: No Needle Exchange in Delaware -- Lack of Political Support Cited | Newsbrief: Colombian Supreme Court Blocks President's Effort to Recriminalize Drug Possession | Newsbrief: Brazil to Cooperate in Andean Drug Plane Shoot-Down Strategy | Newsbrief: Peru to Modify Drug Penalties -- One Step Forward, One Step Back, Some Standing in Place | Newsbrief: Legalize It, Says Canada's National Post | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Web Scan: CEDRO, Foreign Policy, Reason, Nation, Working for Change, Washington Post, Molly Ivins,, UN Report, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sentencing Project | The Reformer's Calendar

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