Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

February 23, 2012

Lawmakers Focus on Meth Problem

Rep. Lisa Billy
Oklahoma House of Representatives

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — The challenge of combating methamphetamine was a major focus of lawmakers this week. Two significant bills were voted on in House committee. One failed, and one progressed.

Legislation to make pseudoephedrine products prescription-only narrowly failed to pass.

House Bill 2375 would have made it illegal to sell pseudoephedrine products without a prescription. The drugs are often used to produce methamphetamine, and proponents said the bill would deny meth cooks access to the ingredients needed to make the drug.

The bill was supported by law enforcement officials who said it would reduce meth production, but opposed by medical officials who said it would needlessly punish law-abiding citizens by making it difficult and more expensive to obtain allergy medicines.

House Bill 2375 failed on a 6-7 vote in the House Public Health Committee. A similar measure was also killed in a state Senate committee.

On the other hand, legislation designed to identify meth cooks and deny them access to pseudoephedrine passed out of that same House committee.

House Bill 2941 would require any pharmacy that sells pseudoephedrine or ephedrine maintain an electronic log of the sale and access a real-time electronic methamphetamine precursor tracking service that will be operated through the Bureau of Narcotics.

Under the legislation, a pharmacy could not complete a sale of pseudoephedrine if the tracking service generates a stop-sale alert. 

The legislation also lowers the quantity of pseudoephedrine product a person may purchase to 3.6 grams per day, 7.2 grams per 30 day period or 60 grams within a 12 month period. 

Individuals who attempt to exceed that limit would be flagged by the proposed tracking service.

Violators would face a fine, and those convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine who attempt to purchase pseudoephedrine within 60 days would face up to 14 years in prison.

House Bill 2941 passed unanimously out of the House Public Health and Safety Committee. The bill now proceeds to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

It is important that we strike the right balance between protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens while also finding efficient ways to deter crime.

On a different topic, the Oklahoma House of Representatives has begun posting Twitter updates containing up-to-the-minute information on floor activity.

As bills are called for hearings on the House floor, tweets containing the bill number and links to information on the bill will be automatically posted in real time on the House Twitter page, @OKHouseofReps.

This is just one more way to help keep the public informed of legislative activity.

As always, feel free to contact me at (405)557-7365 or write me at State Capitol Office 302A, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.