North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley will back tougher penalties for making methamphetamine and more money for law enforcement to stop the manufacture of the drug from spreading statewide, reports the Charlotte Observer. Easley described meth labs, which can explode because of the chemicals used in the drug’s manufacture, as “the biggest threat to every community in North Carolina.”
The labs have been found in apartment buildings, cars, houses, and hotel rooms, and the toxic fumes could harm children who live in homes where the drug is made.
Easley supports Attorney General, who will ask lawmakers to adopt a $14 million anti-meth plan this spring. Cooper would train law enforcement, launch a public awareness campaign, and lengthen prison sentences for people who possess chemicals used to make meth. The sentence for manufacturing meth is about the same as the sentence for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Meth busts in North Carolina grew from nine in 1999 to 177 last year. Law enforcement officers have made 89 such busts in the first three months of 2004. Easley announced a $502,166 grant to buy two additional mobile response vehicles. The trucks, which look like large ambulances, contain biohazard suits, chemical detectors, and other devices that make it safer for law enforcement officers to handle the volatile chemicals in the labs. The state now has only three trucks.