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Cannella introduces bill aimed at meth manufacturers

POSTED April 29, 2011 6:14 p.m.

In an ongoing effort to rid the Central Valley of its methamphetamine trafficking, State Senator Anthony Cannella has introduced a bill to toughen the penalties for production.

Senate Bill 260 was presented to the Senate Public Safety Committee. The measure targets methamphetamine producers by making it a felony to possess more than a half pound of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine.

 “The production and abuse of methamphetamine is one of the greatest threats to our state. As part of government’s responsibility to keep Californians safe, we must do everything in our power to support the law enforcement agents fighting the proliferation of this dangerous drug,” said Cannella. “There is no reason a person would have half a pound of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine except to manufacture meth. By making it a felony to possess excessive amounts of these drugs, my bill would support drug enforcement agents in their ongoing efforts to stop the proliferation of meth in our communities.”

 As of 2006, pharmacies are only allowed to sell 3.6 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to an individual per day and 9 grams to a single customer per month. However, Cannella says methamphetamine producers have developed ways to get around these restrictions by “smurfing,” a term given to the buyers who go from store to store and pay other people to purchase ephedrine or pseudoephedrine for them.  

As it stands now, an individual in possession of a large quantity of either drug can only be found guilty of a felony if law enforcement agents can prove intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Cannella said a half-pound of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine – the equivalent of more than 7,500 tablets or gel tabs – is a quantity far too large to serve any individual medical purpose; thus, the fact that a person would have such a massive amount of either of these drugs signals an ulterior motive beyond the substances’ intended use.

 SB 260 would address this issue by making possession of a half-pound of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine a strict liability felony punishable by up to six years in a state prison, Cannella said. The measure would not apply to licensed drug manufacturers or other individuals and entities authorized by law or regulation to possess either of these drugs.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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