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Editorial

Methamphetamines and the United States Sentencing


11/01/2004 - I imagine an initial rush of extreme pleasure along with power and confidence, after snorting, or injecting, if the user is into stabbing oneself. And I imagine that, at first, some or perhaps many, can take it or leave its stimulating effects.

Methamphetamine use, however, involves a chemical with stimulant properties similar to adrenaline, and is highly addictive. Soon, I am told by clients, chasing the high becomes necessary and is no longer fun at all. It is known by several different names, such as Meth, Crank, Ice, Crystal, Speed.

The short-term consequences of Meth include increased feelings of euphoria, decreased appetite, and increased activity. The long-term consequences can be addiction, violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, and even homicidal tendencies. It is small wonder the addicted are called "tweakers."

There is another long-term consequence not generally considered while users are out having so much fun. Under federal law a user can be sentenced from ten years to life in prison for possession or conspiracy.

It is the United States Sentencing Guidelines which determine how long the sentence shall be. The guidelines are extremely complicated and punish severely through "enhancements" based on many factors, such as prior offenses, drug quantities, or acceptance of responsibility.

Another frighteningly long-term consequence, unconsidered by so-called recreational users, is complicity with other parties to a drug conspiracy. Small, minor league participants in a conspiracy involving sale and distribution, can be punished for the actions of the movers and shakers as if they had committed the acts themselves.

As a result, recreational users, defined, I suppose, as those able to avoid addiction, may nonetheless face the possibility of "hard time" up to life imprisonment, even though their intention may have been solely just to have a good time.

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