Newsbrief: Michigan Lawmakers Introduce Anti-Methamphetamine Package, Includes Life in Prison for 1,000 Grams 7/25/03

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Methamphetamine mania continues its march across the land on the heels of the drug's slow but steady spread from West to East. Last week, Michigan became the latest state to entertain tough new legislation aimed at cracking down on meth. Cheered on by mid-state law enforcement and prosecutors, state Sen. Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck) introduced a three-bill anti-meth package that would increase penalties for methamphetamine possession, delivery or manufacture on July 17.

Under current Michigan law, any methamphetamine offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but Birkholz' package would increase those penalties, all the way up to life in prison for possession of 1000 grams (one kilogram, 2.2 pounds) of the homemade stimulant. That would mean that meth crimes would be punished as severely as similar cocaine and heroin offenses. The package would also make theft of anhydrous ammonia, used in some meth cooking formulas, a specific crime, punishable by up to five years in prison.

According to figures from the Michigan State Police, authorities busted 206 meth labs last year, double the number from the previous year, and have already busted another 104 in the first five months of this year. Those numbers helped Birkholz and her chorus of lawman supporters hype the threat. "This has become the cocaine of the 21st Century," Birkholz told a press conference announcing the bills. "It's moving... what we want to do is stop it in its tracks."

"The problem with this drug is you have the ability to make it in your house and all the things you need to make it are in your local grocery store," chimed in Eaton County Assistant Prosecutor Douglas Lloyd said. "This has become a major cancer and it's spreading," he said. But not only is methamphetamine the new cocaine and a cancer, it is also a menace -- just ask Easton County Sheriff Rick Jones. "It's a growing menace and we'll do everything we can to combat it," he said.

The package of three bills had not yet been posted at the Michigan legislative web site (http://www.michiganlegislature.org) as of press time.

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