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Law defines repackaging illegal drugs as 'manufacture'

I am constantly seeing people arrested on charges of "manufacture of methamphetamine" in the Trib's Emergency Services section. I find this to be strange, because the newspaper recently has reported that the number of working meth labs in Jackson County has dropped considerably since the Legislature ordered retail stores to keep the materiels used in making meth behind the counter. What gives?

— Marie G., Medford

You are correct, Marie, that police are no longer busting meth labs right and left, as they were a decade ago.

In fact, local agencies did not seize a single meth lab in 2008. Medford police have reported the number of working meth labs in Jackson County has dropped each year since 2001.

That's the good news.

The bad news is there still are plenty of people buying and selling meth in our community on a daily basis.

To clarify, the term "manufacture" does not necessarily mean the suspect is creating meth in his or her home and selling it on the street.

According to Oregon criminal statues, someone could be charged with "manufacture" of a drug if he or she buys the drug in bulk and "packages or repackages" it for sale.

Since the Legislature ruled in July 2006, that pills containing pseudoephedrine are only to be made available by request and are kept behind pharmacy counters, the bulk of meth in Jackson County is imported from other states and laboratories based in other countries.

Drug dealers import large amounts of meth and break it down for sale in smaller packaging to sell on the street. Under the law, police can charge them with manufacturing methamphetamine even though they are not actually producing the drug.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.