Legal Analysis of Methamphetamine and Florida Meth Law

Few Florida law attorneys realize that methamphetamine was once legal.

History of Meth



Meth was first synthesized in Japan in 1919 and was widely prescribed to soldiers to keep them awake during World War II battles. It was marketed as Benzedrine in the 1950’s and was the drug of choice for people who wanted to lose weight. A decade later, outlaw biker gangs in the United States learned the so called “Birch” or “Nazi” methods of manufacturing the drug from over the counter cold medication and created the market for “speed”. (Sullivan, 2006) Florida Attorneys working with laws concerning meth have drastically increased recently.

Congress made the drug illegal without a prescription in 1970, but by the early 1980’s new recipes had made meth easier to cook and more potent, offering the user a 6 to 24 hour high that also damaged the brain. (Sullivan, 2006)
A so called “super-meth” took off in Hawaii and southern California which was being manufactured by Mexican drug cartels. But soon the drug was being manufactured by “mom and pop” cooks. Within 20 years it spread eastward through the Rocky Mountains, into the Midwest and onto the East coast. An urban phenomenon at first, it turned rural as the smell associated with its productions caused the cooks to set up in less populated areas to avoid detection. (Sullivan, 2006)

Effects of Meth

Meth is a Schedule II controlled substance; it’s a powerful central nervous system stimulant and is more potent than amphetamines. It has legitimate medical uses for treating some illnesses such as narcolepsy, yet it remains a lethal and unpredictably drug when abused. (Hargreaves, 2000)
The effects of meth are similar to cocaine, with users experiencing a sense of increased energy and euphoria with the duration of the high lasting from 6 to 14 hours. Chronic meth abusers usually inject or smoke the drug every 2 or 3 hours during day long binges that last for days. This often results in the abuser staying awake for more than a week and experiencing extreme irritability from sleep deprivation, increased nervousness, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and violent or erratic behavior. (Hargreaves, 2000)

Meth Production

Unfortunately meth is a very simple drug to manufacture. Meth remains the most abused drug that an individual can produce alone. As the demand for meth increases, abusers have resulted to producing meth from over the counter cold medications and other essential ingredients. Unlike many other synthetic based drugs, it does not take a chemist to produce meth. Meth cooks are usually individuals who have little or no chemical training and simply learned a formula in prison or from the internet. (Hargreaves, 2000)

The 2010 Florida Legislature passed Florida Statute 893.1495 to control the sale and purchase of ephedrine and related compounds.  The law:
Establishes legal limits for the sale and purchase of these products
Requires Florida retailers who sell the products to electronically submit certain purchaser and transaction information to a statewide database,
Allows retailers that do not have a computer with internet access and do not sell more than 72 grams of ephedrine in a 30-day period to Request an Exemption from reporting requirements
Mandates FDLE to adopt Rules for implementation (Rule 11D-2.005- Notice of Rule Development)

Makes FDLE responsible for selecting a provider for the central monitoring system

FDLE selected the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) to provide Florida pharmacies/retailers with a no cost method to comply with Florida’s electronic reporting requirements

The 2006 Florida Anti-Meth law signed by the Governor on June 27, 2006 (HB 1325) affects Meth prosecutions as follows:

  1. In determining whether a child is at “high-risk” of abuse for purposes of filing a dependency petition, DCF may now consider “the arrest of the parents/guardian on charges of manufacturing, processing, disposing of, or storing any substances listed in Chapter 893 (Drug Abuse Prevention and Control).
  2. Adds new language providing enhanced criminal penalties for injury to EMTs, firefighters, paramedics, public utility employees, animal control officers, and any federal state or local government employee sustained as a result of a violation of Ch. 893.13 (re: selling or possession-with-intent-to-distribute a controlled substance)
  3. Prohibits the cancellation of life or health insurance for any of the above groups solely as a result of their exposure to toxic chemicals while engaged in their lawful duties concerning a Ch. 893 violation.
  4. Adds to the list of dangerous crimes warranting pre-trial detention “manufacturing any substances in violation of Ch. 893.” In addition, the bill adds Legislative Findings that, because a person who manufactures Ch. 893 substances poses a sufficient threat to public safety, the court shall order pretrial detention if: (a) the court finds substantial probability that the crime was committed, and (b) no conditions of release are sufficient to protect the community from harm.

During the 2005 legislative session, the Florida Legislature enacted new laws to combat the growing threat of clandestine meth production in Florida. The bill creates a new felony offense for those who expose children to the dangers of meth labs. The DEA estimates that children were present or living at 35% of all labs seized by law enforcement. Effective July 1, 2005, the manufacture of methamphetamine, or the possession of any listed precursor or essential chemical with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, became:

1st Degree Felony with a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence and a maximum of 30-years in prison if the commission or attempted commission of the crime occurs in a structure or conveyance where any child under the age of 16 is present,

and

A 1st Degree Felony with a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence and a maximum of 30-years in prison if the commission of the crime causes any child under 16 years of age to suffer great bodily harm.

Click on the following link for a summary of Florida’s criminal Meth laws:
Florida’s Criminal Meth Statutes

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