DURANT, Okla. – Hello again, everybody! More meetings are underway at the State Capitol to prepare for the 2010 legislative session, now only four months away.
A meeting last week focused on methamphetamine. Five years ago, Oklahoma was one of the first states to restrict the availability of pseudoephedrine, the critical component in the illegal manufacturing of meth.
Despite some legitimate concerns and harsh criticism leveled at the proposal, it was passed and signed into law. My decision to support the bill was made when an agent of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDDC) brought a common duffel bag into a Capitol committee room.
He had come through Capitol security with no problem. The agent put the bag on the table and began pulling out – one-by-one – common household items he had bought that morning in a retail store. When he emptied the bag, sitting on the table before us were the ingredients necessary to illegally manufacture meth.
We passed a law putting pseudoephedrine products – except for liquids and liquid-filled gel caps – behind pharmacy counters, requiring customers to sign a log to purchase it. The idea, which worked, was to prevent people from purchasing the large quantities of pseudoephedrine necessary to cook methamphetamine.
Several other states, and the federal government, to some degree copied Oklahoma’s law. For some time, the number of meth labs plummeted.
Now, a new recipe to manufacture meth called the “shake-and-bake” method requires far fewer pseudoephedrine pills to make the killer drug. The OBNDDC returned to the State Capitol last week with a new proposal to fight this poison that is destroying dreams and stealing life from so many Oklahomans.
The solution proposed to lawmakers by OBNDDC is to make pseudoephedrine available only with a prescription. The proposal would further restrict the availability of a drug on which many Oklahomans depend for seasonal allergies.
The Oklahoma Pharmacists Association expressed concern about the new proposal. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association prefers a stronger multi-state tracking system of purchases. That might make more sense.
The Tulsa County sheriff said his county has become a hotbed of meth production because people can go to neighboring states to get pseudoephedrine. Being a border area, that is another challenge we face if we further restrict pseudoephedrine.
Methamphetamine is a terrible scourge, one that is truly destroying families and ending lives. Every time we make some progress against it, those who are intent on producing this poison find a way around the law.
This will be an important discussion next year, and I would like to know your concerns and suggestions for making Oklahomans safer. You can send me a message through my website at www.gumm.us. You can also follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/jpgumm or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jpgumm.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.