Senator Craig Estes Declares War on Methamphetamine Scourge
AUSTIN -- State Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, has declared war on the methamphetamine epidemic by filing a package of bills for the 79th Texas Legislature aimed at limiting the essential ingredients for producing the drug while providing stiffer penalties for the criminals who manufacture, deliver, or possess it.
"Today I am declaring war on the methamphetamine epidemic that plagues North Texas and, indeed, the entire state. It is critical that the Texas Legislature to do all we can to eradicate this terrible drug that destroys lives, ruins families, and ravages communities. This is a package of tough, new laws that address this issue with the seriousness it deserves," Estes said.
Estes said he has been working with law enforcement officers and criminal prosecutors, who helped him craft his package of legislation that seeks to prohibit over-the-counter sales of certain forms of pseudoephedrine, enhances the penalty for manufacture or delivery of methamphetamine, strengthens conspiracy laws for persons associated with the manufacture or distribution of methamphetamine, and increases the punishment for manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of children.
Wichita County District Attorney Barry Macha said the cornerstone of Estes' legislation is limiting access to the drug's key ingredient, pseudoephedrine.
"This is why I strongly support the legislation introduced by Senator Estes. Any inconvenience to the pharmaceutical industry, retailers, and consumers pales in comparison to the insidious damage methamphetamine causes to our communities, families, and most especially our children," Macha said.
The one single ingredient that "meth cooks" must have is pseudoephedrine tablets which are ground into powder in the manufacturing process. Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient in many over-the-counter products, Estes said. Senate Bill 107 proposes to prohibit over-the-counter sales of single entity forms of pseudoephedrine, but would still allow for liquid, gel capsule and liquid capsule form in which pseudoephedrine is not the only active ingredient.
This law would not apply to a product dispensed or delivered by a pharmacist according to a prescription issued by a physician, Estes said. Any establishment caught selling or dispensing pseudoephedrine in its single entity form by any means other than a pharmacy would be subject to monetary penalties as per the number and seriousness of violations discovered.
Senate Bill 108 filed by Estes would enhance the penalties for manufacture or delivery of methamphetamine. Current law punishes the manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver less than one gram of methamphetamine with a mandatory state jail felony which, in most cases translates into automatic probation.
"My proposed legislation is much tougher and would redefine these offenses as third degree felonies punishable by prison sentences served in the state penitentiary," Estes.
Senate Bill 110 is aimed at punishing anyone associated -- not just the "meth cooks" -- with the manufacture or distribution of illegal drugs including methamphetamine.
"This is targeted at any conspirators who are involved in cooking a batch of meth. It covers everything from people helping collect the ingredients to someone who rents a motel room where meth is being cooked in a makeshift lab. We need to enlarge the net to catch and punish anyone playing any part in these criminal activities," Estes said.
Senate Bill 109 proposes enhancing penalties for the manufacture of methamphetamine by one full degree if there is a child younger than 18 years present on the premises.
"We, as a society, must get serious about eradicating methamphetamine and the toll it continues to take in our homes, in our schools, and in places of work. It continues to play a major role in child abuse and neglect, and it fuels property and identity theft crimes," Estes said.
"The methamphetamine drug culture is, without question, the most pressing crime problem facing our state, and it's time for the Texas Legislature to pass some tough, new laws to fight this serious war," Estes said.
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