Meth as a 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'

Here's an example of anti-terrorism and Patriot Act-style powers spreading to non-terrorist crimes: Prosecutors in North Carolina have used the state's "weapons of mass destruction" statute to charge a suspected crystal meth lab owner. Monkey Media Report has the details, including this quote from the District Attorney:

"Not only is the drug methamphetamine in itself a threat to both society and those using it, but the toxic compounds and deadly gases created as side products are also real threats. I feel that, as a prosecutor, I have to address this. Something has to be done to protect society." Another North Carolina district attorney already is following suit.

This is nothing but a desperate attempt by frustrated law enforcement officials to fit a square peg in a round hole. No one supports meth labs, but if the North Carolina drug laws aren't sufficiently punitive for prosecutors and cops, they should take it to the legislature and pass a stricter law, rather than stretching an existing law past its common meaning and intended use.

The law defines nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction as, in part, 'any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury and ... is or contains toxic or poisonous chemicals or their immediate precursors.'

'It seems to me to be a real stretch of the imagination, that this would be covered under the antiterrorism law,' said Wallace Harrelson, the public defender in Guilford County. 'It seems to me that the antiterrorism law was designed with a specific purpose in mind, to prosecute people who are threatening to hurt the safety of the general public.'

Harrelson and others also said that they doubted whether a judge would allow prosecution under the law for drug-related activity that does not terrorize the public.

While we have no knowledge of the composition of the North Carolina legislature, we found this excuse for the legislature's failure to act pretty unbelievable:

'I've probably got eight or 10 bills before the legislature,' Keith said. 'It is extremely difficult, with all the defense attorneys in the General Assembly, to get tougher bills passed when they also have to vote on prisons.' (emphasis supplied.)

If criminal defense attorneys had that much clout in North Carolina, surely there wouldn't be a prison overcrowding problem.

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