Concord – Gov. John
Lynch signed a bill into law yesterday
establishing stiff penalties for making and using
methamphetamine and for possessing common
household chemicals used to make the highly
are seeing an increase in the production, sale and
use of crystal methamphetamine here in New
Hampshire,” said Lynch. “Left unchecked, the
growth in crystal methamphetamine production and
use presents a serious threat to the health and
safety of our citizens.”
Over the past two
years, police have raided 15 meth labs in the
state, according to Senior Assistant Attorney
General Jane Young.
For $100 and a
recipe off the Internet, an addict can “cook”
enough meth out of cold medicine sold
over-the-counter and lye, iodine and other common
household products to supply his habit with a
little left over to sell.
Under the new law,
people convicted of making or attempting to make
meth face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up
to $500,000. Repeat offenders face even longer
sentences. Offenders also face penalties if police
or others responding to a lab site are hurt as a
The law also allows
the court to order restitution to cover the cost
of cleaning up the toxic chemicals used to make
meth. The state will set standards to show when a
property is clean — an important provision for
landlords and owners who otherwise might have
trouble renting or selling it.
“Because of the
high costs associated with cleaning up a
methamphetamine lab, it is crucial that the court
be able to assess these costs to the offender,”
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said.
Cleanup costs to
state and federal governments in the West have run
as high as $150,000, with an average additional
cost to a homeowner of about $6,500. New Hampshire
spent about $15,000 cleaning up a lab in a home in
Milan last year, not including damage to the
house, said Young.
The law also makes
it a crime to possess many commonly available
ingredients used to make methamphetamine, such as
ephedrine, iodine and anhydrous ammonia.
Prosecutors would have to prove the person
intended to make the drug.
A new federal law
also is taking aim at methamphetamine production
by imposing new restrictions on the sale of
over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines.
Customers are limited to buying 300 30-milligram
pills in a month or 120 such pills in a day.
By Sept. 30,
retailers will be required to sell such medicines
from behind the counter and purchasers would have
to show ID and sign log books.
New Hampshire and
other states have focused their efforts on nipping
the growth in homegrown labs due to the dangers
posed by the chemical stew required to produce
meth. The mix can explode and is highly toxic.
Fumes can permeate apartment walls and meth
producers often dump the leftover chemicals down
drains or onto nearby soil, polluting the
Last month, Lynch
signed another bill that establishes penalties for
knowingly exposing a child or incapacitated adult
to meth. Those convicted face up to five years in
prison on top of any other charges.
The law took effect
with Lynch’s signature.
“We have seen
nationally just how dangerous and destructive this
drug is, leaving a trail of ruined lives, broken
families and crime in its wake,” said Health and
Human Services Commissioner John Stephen. “These
penalties are critical, but we must also focus on
attacking the demand side of methamphetamine with
prevention and treatment. There is no way to win
the war of drugs by just looking at supply.”
Ayotte said the
laws bring the state one step closer to stemming
the production of methamphetamine and protecting
its most vulnerable residents.