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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ind. Decisions - A third opinion today from Supreme Court, re “adulterated” methamphetamine

In Joseph K. Buelna v. State of Indiana, a 14-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Rush writes:

The severity of a methamphetamine manufacturing offense depends on the weight of “pure or adulterated” drug the defendant manufactures. But the term “adulterated” is ambiguous in the context of the manufacturing process, which has led to divergent interpretations of how to define, and consequently how to weigh, “adulterated” methamphetamine. We construe “adulterated” meth-amphetamine as a final product, not the total weight of an intermediate mixture still undergoing reaction. This interpretation derives from our precedent discussing “adulterated” drugs, practical considerations about the manufacturing process, the structure of the methamphetamine statute, and the rule of lenity. Accordingly, when the State seeks to establish the weight of manufactured meth-amphetamine based on an intermediate mixture that contains methamphetamine, it must demonstrate how much final product that mixture would have yielded had the defendant finished the manufacturing process. [ILB emphasis]

Here, the State presented no such evidence and thus may not use the intermediate mixture to establish the three-gram weight enhancement for Class A felony manufacturing methamphetamine. Yet, the record shows that Defendant manufactured additional final product that exceeded the three-gram threshold. On the basis of that additional final product, we find the evidence sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 13, 2014 04:04 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions