By Max Bomber
Methamphetamine has taken its toll on Indiana and the General Assembly is in the process of creating legislation to stop the problems connected to the drug.
“We are number one in the last three years with meth labs that are created throughout state,” said Rep. David Frizzell, R-Indianapolis. “Certainly is a crisis.”
House Bill 1157 looks to prevent criminals from making meth while allowing a law-abiding citizen to be able to buy medicine without any trouble.
“We have already got a system established its called the NPLEx system,” said Frizzell,
The NPLEx database can generate a stop-sale alert to prevent individuals with meth related felonies from purchasing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine—medicines used in the creation of meth.
Frizzell said Alabama and Oklahoma have systems similar to what HB 1157 aims to do. From 2010-2013, Alabama has seen a 79 percent decrease in meth labs.
“It really isn’t an experiment. Six other states have done it. Every state that has done it has seen a drop,” said Carlos Gutierrez, senior director and head of state government affairs for Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
He said there was a 90 percent drop in Oklahoma after they created a similar law.
Sen. Gregory Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said although the bill is designed to reduce the number of meth labs, he does not think the bill will help meth users recover.
“I’m not going to vote for any of these bills until we get down to the nitty-gritty and provide funds to provide drug rehabilitation help for meth users,” said Taylor.
The bill passed 8-1.
House Bill 1211 would increase the punishment for those who cause fires started by meth labs.
Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, told the committee two years ago Indiana Department of Environmental Management estimated that meth caused property owners $31.9 million annually in material damages.
The bill would increase the punishment for damaging property while dealing or producing meth to a Level 6 felony, punishable by a minimum of six months behind bars. Also, if damages occurs and also damages a surrounding home – it will result in a Level 4 felony, punishable by a minimum of two years behind bars.
The committee passed the bill with 8-0.
HB 1235 would allow Indiana prosecutors to consider an offender’s criminal record when determining possible sentence for a drug dealer. If the individual has been convicted or arrested for distributing synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and spice, then the sentence could be more severe.
Under the bill, an individual who is convicted of a Level 2 felony would be sentenced to at least 10 years. The bill also says that the courts may not suspend a Level 2 conviction of dealing controlled substances.
“If people are going to continue to do the same crimes time after time at some point you need to say hey your just going to do the minimum,” said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis.
The legislation passed the committee 7-2. All three bills now move to the full Senate for discussion.