For Immediate Release
Contact: Jonathan Wroblewski
Thursday, May 1, 1997
(202) 273-4520


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Sentencing Commission today sent to Congress amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines that will significantly increase penalties for importing and trafficking in methamphetamine. The amendments will also increase sentences for any drug offense that results in environmental damage C a concern especially associated with clandestine "meth labs."

"We believe these amendments respond to the concerns of Congress, the President, and the American people, and appropriately address very serious drug crimes," said Judge Richard P. Conaboy, Chairman of the Sentencing Commission. In a White House statement issued Tuesday, President Clinton said he was "pleased that the Sentencing Commission has increased penalties for methamphetamine offenses," and indicated that the Commission's actions will "toughen penalties on this emerging drug to prevent the kind of epidemic we saw in the 1980s with cocaine use."

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant which can be smoked, snorted, injected, or eaten. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, methamphetamine use results in Aeuphoria, increased alertness, increased energy, and tremors,@ and large doses frequently result in irritability, aggression, anxiety, delusions, auditory hallucinations, and paranoia.

The methamphetamine amendments were part of a larger package of amendments sent to Congress today. Most of these amendments implement legislation passed last year by the 104th Congress, including the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and the Drug-Induced Rape Prevention Act of 1996. The amendments will take effect November 1, 1997, unless Congress disapproves them during a six-month period of review.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the Judicial Branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines, which went into effect November 1, 1987, structure the courts' sentencing discretion to ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences. Since nationwide implementation in January 1989, federal judges have sentenced more than 300,000 defendants under the guidelines.



United States Sentencing Commission