Lawmaker Wants Stiffer 'Crank' Penalties! 

Lawmaker Wants Stiffer 'Crank' Penalties! 
Posted by FoM on March 13, 1999 at 07:18:46 PT
Bill would triple punishment for selling meth
A state legislator, alarmed by a rise in the presence of methamphetamine along Wisconsin's western border, is pushing for stiffer penalties for those who possess or deliver the highly addictive drug. 
State Rep. Rob Kreibich (R-Eau Claire) said Friday that he was introducing a bill to triple the state penalty for methamphetamine trafficking. He also is seeking to make possession of any amount a felony. That would bring methamphetamine penalties in line with those in other states and those for heroin. Sometimes labeled "rural crack" for its popularity in small towns, methamphetamine causes anger, panic, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug, also called crank, is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system and is highly addictive when smoked, injected, ingested or inhaled. The penalty for methamphetamine delivery would rise from seven years to 22 years. Methamphetamine possession, currently a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail, would become a felony, and offenders would face a year in prison instead. Heroin is the only other drug in the state for which possession is a felony. Cocaine possession is a misdemeanor. "Right now we are weaker than other states," Kreibich said, referring to laws against methamphetamine. "This is really a problem in western Wisconsin, where Minnesota has toughened laws on meth. Until we do so in Wisconsin, I'm afraid this will be a problem that sweeps east." Kreibich said law enforcement officers have told him they often encounter dealers who carry small amounts of methamphetamine because they will face only a misdemeanor. "This drug is cheap and a big high, and it seems to cater to rural communities, which we have so many of here," Kreibich said. "Local law enforcement needs this tool to combat a drug now running rampant in western Wisconsin." Kreibich's plan is the latest effort in a broad-based attack to stem the spread of methamphetamine, which has become a major problem, particularly in Minnesota and Iowa. Attorney General James Doyle and U.S. Attorney Peggy Lautenschlager on Thursday announced they were launching a campaign against methamphetamine that will include more training for law enforcement officers and educators. They plan three major seminars in the spring. Doyle and Lautenschlager were alarmed by a January study that showed methamphetamine use is spreading along the state's western border. For the first time, several southwestern counties reported a rise in the drug's use, while northwest Wisconsin remains the focal point. Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said Friday that he had been lobbying for stiffer penalties. "There is the same public concern as with heroin," he said. "We're too handcuffed in Wisconsin. We have to do a lot of hours of investigation to get a felony." Lautenschlager said methamphetamine penalties in the federal system were toughened under a 1996 law that sought to make them equal to crack cocaine. Under the federal system, a person could face as much as 20 years in prison on a methamphetamine charge.
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