Federal law regulates the distribution of several “precursor chemicals.” These are not controlled substances but are used in the manufacture of controlled substances. Possession of precursor chemicals is legal if the person who possesses them complied with regulations governing the purchase of those chemicals.
Most federal prosecutions for violations of precursor chemical regulations involve restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. Those substances were sold over-the-counter for many years as cold remedies and for allergy relief.
When combined with other chemicals, ephedrine (which can be derived from pseudoephedrine) is used to manufacture methamphetamine. Many products (particularly those in pill or capsule form) containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine can no longer be purchased over-the-counter in unlimited quantities.
Consumers must present identification when purchasing most products containing pseudoephedrine and the purchase must be recorded in a log book. Individuals are prohibited from buying more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine (from all sources combined) within any 30 day period, no matter how bad their colds or allergies might be.
About three dozen other chemicals are listed on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s schedule of precursor chemicals that are subject to federal regulation. Purchasing any of those chemicals in bulk generally requires registration with, and the permission of, the DEA. Failing to comply with those regulations is a federal crime.
The Texas legislature has listed several precursor chemicals that are subject to the state’s criminal laws. They include (among others):
- Pseudoephedrine – a source of ephedrine
- Norpseudoephedrine (also known as Phenylpropanolamine) – a source of ephedrine
- Methylamine – a derivative of ammonia, used to make methamphetamine
- Ethylamine – used to make methamphetamine
- D-lysergic acid – used to make LSD
- Diethyl malonate (DEM) and malonic acid – used to synthesize barbiturates
- Piperidine – used to make PCP
The Texas Department of Public Safety has added two precursor chemicals to the list created by the legislature: red phosphorus and hypophosphorous acid. Those compounds are commonly combined with ephedrine to manufacture methamphetamine.
Violations of the regulation against buying too much pseudoephedrine within a 30 day period are generally misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum sentence of one year. Additional fines and costs can be imposed as well as a term of supervised release.
The same penalties generally apply to violations of other regulations governing the purchase of precursor chemicals. A charge of possessing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, however, is a felony that carries the same harsh penalties that apply to manufacturing methamphetamine.
- If the controlled substance is listed in Penalty Group 1 or 1-A, the crime is a second degree felony, punishable by a prison sentence of not less than two years or more than 20 years.
- If the controlled substance is listed in Penalty Group 2, the crime is a third degree felony, punishable by a prison sentence of not less than two years or more than 10 years.
- If the controlled substance is listed in Penalty Group 3 or 4, the crime is a state jail felony, punishable by a state jail sentence of not less than 180 days or more than two years.
- If the controlled substance is not listed in a Penalty Group, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of not more than one year and/or a fine.
Talk To a Lubbock Drug Attorney Today
The most commonly charged precursor chemical offenses are felonies. A felony conviction can be devastating. To learn about your options for defending against a crime involving precursor chemicals, call Hamilton Grant today.