New Meth Law Will Help Law Enforcement

A meth lab found near Benson in December 2014.
A meth lab found near Benson in December 2014.

New North Carolina legislation signed into law last week will help law enforcement officials across the state enforce methamphetamine charges. Passed with a 116 to 3 vote by the House and unanimously ratified by the Senate, House Bill 659 was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory Thursday.

The act clarifies what constitutes certain drug offenses by updating the list of precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine and making it against the law for anyone to possess them with intent to manufacture the drug.

“It’s a little more specific — it will help with enforcement,” said Dunn Police Narcotics Agent Sgt. Jeff Williams.

As laws make it more difficult for meth producers to access certain chemicals, they adapt and find new ways to produce the drug. The new law adds to the list of precursor chemicals, items such as cold packs containing ammonium nitrate, lithium batteries, lye found in products such as Draino, lighter fluids and camping fuels. 

“Laws are constantly changing because trends are constantly changing,” said Lt. Dallas Autry with the Dunn Police Narcotics Unit.

Methamphetamine labs have evolved from large-scale operations in barns and utility buildings to the ability to “cook” entire batches in a single plastic Gatorade bottle.

A meth lab found near Four Oaks in June 2014.
A meth lab found near Four Oaks in June 2014.

The procedure still remains potentially volatile, a serious concern since some meth producers have begun moving their operations into motel rooms.

“It doesn’t only endanger the person cooking the drug — it endangers everyone around them,” said Sgt. Williams. “Imagine going on vacation with your family and staying in a room next to someone cooking meth.”

“Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug — it is very addictive. Hopefully adding the new charges will help cut down on it,” added Lt. Autry. “Will it completely stop it? No — they will get other people to buy (the ingredients) for them.”

This act becomes effective Dec. 1, 2015, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.