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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
September 30, 2004

Gov. Henry Urges Other States to Adopt Versions of Oklahoma Law Combating Meth

Oklahoma City - Gov. Brad Henry is urging his fellow governors to adopt their own version of a recent Oklahoma law that clamps down on methamphetamine abuse.

In letters mailed to all U.S. governors, Gov. Henry details the impact of Oklahoma's statute restricting tablet sales of pseudoephedrine, a chief ingredient in the manufacture of meth.

"Nationwide success in stopping the methamphetamine epidemic will come from a combined effort of states limiting access to key ingredients," the Governor wrote in the letters. "That is why laws similar to Oklahoma's hold such tremendous potential in stamping out this scourge."

Clandestine methamphetamine lab seizures have declined nearly 50 percent since the law took effect, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. Between April and July of last year, there were 423 methamphetamine lab seizures in the state. Over the same period this year, law enforcement officials catalogued 263 such cases.

The Governor signed House Bill 2176 in April. Under the measure, tablet forms of pseudoephedrine are only sold behind the counter in Oklahoma pharmacies. Customers are limited in the amount that they can buy each month and upon purchase must present a photo identification and provide a signature. Sales of gel and liquid forms of pseudoephedrine are
not used to make methamphetamine, and therefore are not subject to restriction.

OBNDDC director Lonnie Wright praised the law for its effectiveness.

"This is a textbook example of what can be done when we, as a state from the Governor on down, focus our attention and efforts on a particular threat," Wright said.

"We at the Bureau are delighted by the tremendous difference this law has already made, and I believe we can expect to see an even greater decline if surrounding states adopt a similar law."

HB 2176 also includes a provision allowing judges to deny bond to chronic methamphetamine offenders, a measure aimed at protecting the public and law enforcement community.

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Ward pointed out that meth has been at the center of separate incidents that resulted in the slayings of three Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. The last incident was the Dec. 26, 2003 killing of Trooper Nik Green.

"Many addicts were posting bond to then immediately consume more of the drug," Ward said. "The defendant accused of murdering Trooper Nik Green was arrested twice in the 30 days prior to the slaying for possessing methamphetamine. When Trooper Green encountered him on that rural county road, the defendant is believed to have been manufacturing meth and, when
he was arrested two days after the murder, he had meth in his possession. The addiction, loss of self-control and subsequent paranoia is too much for meth users to overcome."

Already officials in a handful of states, including Arkansas and Maine, are looking into replicating Oklahoma's law.

Oklahoma is one of a growing number of states that have witnessed the spread of methamphetamine. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Reports that 46 percent of meth related incidents in 2002 occurred in a nine-state region.


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