NORTH CAROLINA - It's Dec. 1, and a new law aimed to fight methamphetamine takes will effect criminals in Eastern North Carolina.
The law, passed by the General Assembly of North Carolina, has two main goals.
First, it makes it an offense for anyone possessing pseudoephedrine if the defendant has been convicted for the possession or manufacture of methamphetamine.
Second, the law increases the penalty for manufacturing methamphetamine, when children, disabled, or elderly people are present. This is recommended by the house select committee on methamphetamine abuse.
The State Bureau of Investigation reports that 120 children were removed from homes where meth was being manufactured in 2012. That's up from 82 in 2011.
Officials say so far this year, 14 children have been found living around meth labs in North Carolina. They add that when a child is removed from a home where a meth lab is found, their belongings usually have to be destroyed because of hazardous fumes given off when meth is cooked.
The bill continues to show that if a person is convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine, and a "law enforcement officer, probation officer, parole officer, emergency medical services employee, or a firefighter suffered serious injury while discharging or attempting to discharge his or her official duties and that the injury was directly caused by one of the hazards associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine," then the defendant will have a minimum prison sentence for that felony, increased by 24 months.
According to the SBI, agents responded to 460 meth labs in 2012, compared to 344 meth labs in 2011 and 235 labs in 2010. Agents have responded to more than 70 labs so far this year.
The SBI also reports that about 73 percent of the meth labs busted in North Carolina in 2012 used the "one pot" method. It uses a small amount of pseudoephedrine to cook meth in a plastic bottle.
Representatives Craig Horn, John Faircloth, Joe Tolson and Sarah Stevens sponsored this legislation.
To read more about the bill: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H29v3.html
This bill goes into effect after a series of meth lab bust that have happened in Eastern North Carolina. The most recent ones taking place in Duplin, Carteret and Lenoir County.