Kudos to 90th District Rep. Sarah Stevens, of Mount Airy, and two of her colleagues for introducing legislation aimed at making life more difficult for meth producers.
Meth, known by a number of names including speed, crank, crystal, and ice, can be snorted, smoked, injected or ingested by mouth. It is a stimulant that can speed up the heart, raise blood pressure and increase the body’s temperature, and it is highly addictive.
Over time various illicit drugs become popular, then fade from public consciousness. Think of LSD in the late 1960s and 1970s, cocaine in the 1980s, heroin and ecstasy in the 1990s and, now, the drug de jour seems to be meth.
Just like those other drugs that seemed to define a decade or a period in history, meth poses serious health risks to the users, and by extension to others who might fall victim to someone hyped up on meth.
Meth carries an added danger, primarily to those living with or nearby to a meth maker. Because meth is relatively easy, and inexpensive, to manufacture, it is not uncommon to find individuals making it in their homes. While it’s comparatively simple to make, the process is not without danger. Sometimes an explosion can ensue, or a violent fire can start if the process is not handled exactly right.
And done correctly or not, the process gives off dangerous fumes, not unlike having a factory using hazardous materials to produce a product. The difference with a home meth lab is that the manufacturing process is out in the open, with hazardous materials producing fumes, soaking into carpets, being absorbed by walls and furniture. Because of the health hazards those chemicals pose, when a meth lab is discovered, it must be dismantled by hazardous material specialists, with the interior materials destroyed.
Those same materials literally poison the air for anyone around the meth production — children being kept in the same home, those living in neighboring apartments, or anyone else in the immediate vicinity.
Stevens, along with representatives Craig Horn (R-Union), John Faircloth (R-Guilford) and Joe Tolson (D-Pinetops), is the primary sponsor of a bill that goes after these meth makers in a variety of ways.
First, it makes it a felony for anyone convicted of meth production to own any product which contains pseudoephedrine, a substance found in some cold medicines and the key ingredient needed to make he drug. This gives police the power to arrest a convicted meth producer as he or she is collecting material to make more of the drug, before the process starts.
Second, the bill, if passed, would impose stiffer sentences for those convicted of making meth around children, seniors, or the disabled.
In conjunction with the legislation, state Attorney General Roy Cooper is asking the General Assembly for money to hire five State Bureau of Investigation agents to work full-time responding to meth lab calls — only SBI agents are trained in proper dismantling and disposal of meth labs. At present, the state has five such agents and Cooper is looking to double that number.
And Cooper is asking that the state participate in an electronic system which tracks pseudoephedrine purchases, which can help not only stop illegal purchases, but track likely meth labs.
This is an example of a common-sense, enforceable law that puts more teeth into anti-drug efforts and has the potential to make Mount Airy, Surry County, and other communities safer.
The House was scheduled to take up discussion of the bill yesterday, and we hope Stevens’ colleagues will see the need to follow her lead and approve this bill.