Faced with increasing concern over the use and home manufacture of methamphetamine, Illinois last year restricted the sales of over-the-counter cold remedies such as Sudafed. But while the Sudafed solution, pioneered in Oklahoma, has proven popular across the country, Illinois lawmakers wanted more. This year, Gov. Rod Blagejovic (D) and Attorney General Lisa Madigan crafted a bill sponsored by State Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) that would ramp up penalties for methamphetamine offenses and create new meth-related offenses. The bill, SB 562, the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, passed the Illinois House unanimously on April 8 and is awaiting action in the state Senate.
While any manufacture of meth is a felony under Illinois law, the bill creates mandatory minimum six-year prison sentences for persons convicted of manufacturing more than a half-ounce (15 grams) of meth, mandatory eight-year sentences for more than 100 grams, and mandatory 10-year sentences for more than 400 grams. The bill also creates the offense of aggravated meth manufacture, to be invoked in the stuff is being cooked in an apartment building, motel, or hotel, where children or a pregnant woman are present, or if firearms, video cameras, or other means of protecting the premises are involved. If charged with aggravated meth manufacture, the mandatory six-year sentence kicks in no matter how small the amount cooked.
The bill also criminalizes the possession of meth precursors and creates the new offense of possession of anhydrous ammonia with the intent to cook speed, as well as aggravated possession with intent, which carries the favored six-year mandatory minimum. And the bill makes being a look-out for a meth lab a felony as well. "Methamphetamine-related child endangerment" also becomes a felony. It is defined as cooking meth in a home or vehicle where children are present.
"Senate Bill 562 focuses on a factor that makes meth different from other drugs targeted by the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, namely the manufacture of meth here in our communities in Illinois," Madigan said. "Unlike many other drugs, meth is made in our state, and making meth can cause as much harm as using it."
"This bill will help protect the people of the State of Illinois from the scourge of methamphetamine. I will continue to fight this dangerous drug and will work to make sure that our law enforcement officers have all the necessary tools to stop this terrible drug and the effects that it has on communities across the state," Rep. Haine said.
And now the bill appears set to steamroll its way through the Senate under Haine's stewardship.