LANSING – State Representative John Kivela (D-Marquette) introduced legislation today to create a misdemeanor crime concerning methamphetamine production that will give prosecutors the option of charging a person with a misdemeanor or a felony. Kivela’s bills are House Bills 4767 and 4768. The same two bills were also introduced today in the state Senate and are sponsored by State Senators Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) as Senate Bills 409 and 410.
“When we passed Michigan’s meth production law last year, we made organized group purchasing of products that contain pseudoephedrine (PSE), the chemical needed to manufacture methamphetamine, a felony with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison,” said Kivela. “This year we are tweaking that to create a misdemeanor for attempting to solicit someone to purchase PSE, which will allow prosecutors to have more flexibility in sentencing first-time offenders.”
Group purchasing of PSE has come to be known as “smurfing.” During testimony on the bills passed last session, many felt that creating only a felony charge would be detrimental to first-time offenders, and make their rehabilitation harder because they would always have a felony conviction on their record. The new misdemeanor offense would carry penalties of not more than one year in prison, or a fine of not more than $1,000 or both. Individuals convicted of this misdemeanor would also be blocked from purchasing any products containing PSE without a valid physician’s prescription under the Methamphetamine Abuse Reporting Act.
“It is critical we continue the fight against methamphetamine”, said O’Brien. “Meth production is positive for no one and ruins lives and families. I applaud the bipartisan efforts to protect lives. As meth production is a serious issue in my community, I appreciate Representative Kivela including me in this package.”
Methamphetamine production has increased in recent years across the Upper Peninsula and throughout many other Michigan communities. People typically run meth labs to make the drug in their homes and, sometimes, even in the trunks of their cars.
“By creating a misdemeanor penalty we’re giving people a chance to turn their lives around while still holding them responsible for the crime they’ve committed,” said Kivela. “I appreciate the support for these bills from my colleagues, and look forward to working together with them to strengthen our meth laws by giving prosecutors more options.”
Representative Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) introduced additional legislation battling illegal methamphetamine. His bill, HB 4769 calls for increased penalties for meth related offenses when those offenses occur within 1000 feet of school property. This change will place meth related penalties on par with other drug offenses in school zones.
“Meth and its production are extremely dangerous. Adding increased penalties for being in a school zone is long overdue and will keep the manufacturers from creating this heightened danger around children from happening and behind bars longer,” said McBroom. “I’m proud to support this with my U.P. colleagues.”