Ask The Lawyer – A new way of finding Methamphetamine criminals

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Recently I found myself in municipal court. Several people were arrested and charged under a new law. The law is called the Electronic drug offender tracking system and is Section 20-2-190.2. This law is another attempt by the Alabama Legislature to control the production of Methamphetamine.Methamphetamine
Everyone knows that this drug destroys lives. Addiction is almost a certainty for those who try it.   With addiction comes the loss of all things we hold dear. Lost are friends and family, employment, freedom, and even life. The money spent to enforce the laws to limit meth’s use and production is astronomical.
This law is part of a monitoring system that the state uses to collect data on everyone who buys sinus medication. Every pharmacy in the state of Alabama is required to be a part of an electronic system that enters the purchase of every box of cold medication that is sold. Now, I’m not talking about the type that you can just pick from the shelf and take to the cashier.  This is the sinus medication that  contains ephedrine. When you buy this one you must show your driver’s licenses and sign for it before purchase.

Sudafed contains the primary chemical used to make methamphetamine.

Sudafed contains the primary chemical used to make methamphetamine.

The law states: “(c) The electronic drug offender tracking system shall have the technological capability to receive ephedrine and pseudoephedrine sales data from pharmacies submitted pursuant to this section. The electronic drug offender tracking system shall be capable of bridging with existing and future operational systems used by pharmacies at no charge to the pharmacies.”
This law also makes it a crime for any person who has been convicted of any drug offense in the last seven years to buy ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. The law defines a drug conviction as;  “Any conviction or plea of nolo contendere for the offense of possession, distribution, trafficking, or any degree of manufacture of controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia. A drug related conviction shall also include the inchoate (not yet completed or fully developed) crimes of attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy of any of the drug related crimes.
This means that if a person has plead to or has been convicted of the misdemeanor of possession of Marijuana or of the misdemeanor  possession of drug paraphernalia they may not buy sinus medication for seven years after the conviction.
Photo on Left - 27 years old. Photo on Right - 30 years old.

Photo on Left – 27 years old.
Photo on Right – 30 years old.

The law became Effective January 1, 2013.  It also states that : “the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center shall implement a real-time electronic drug offender tracking system to catalogue all criminal convictions in this state of persons convicted of felonies or misdemeanors involving the possession, distribution, manufacture, or trafficking of controlled substances. This catalogue shall include, but not be limited to, paraphernalia convictions, violations of this article, in whole or in part, attempts, conspiracies, or solicitations to commit any crime involving the possession, distribution, or manufacture of controlled substances. A drug offender convicted of violations of Act 2012-237, possession of a controlled substance, or drug paraphernalia shall remain in the drug offender tracking system for seven years beginning upon each conviction. A drug offender convicted of manufacture, distribution, or trafficking of controlled substances shall remain in the drug offender tracking system for ten years beginning upon each conviction. A person’s name shall be removed from the tracking system upon the expiration of the applicable seven or ten years from the adjudication or conviction of the last violation and confirmation that the drug offender has no new convictions.

The people who were in municipal court had no idea that they had broken the law when buying the medication. They each had to pay a hefty fine and court cost. Remember – Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense.

   Rebecca Green Thomason

Attorney At Law


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