Oklahoma has a reputation for having one of the nation’s highest rates of meth addiction, and it is not a reputation that is unearned.
In 2012, CNN issued a map showing the number of meth labs by county across the nation. This meth map revealed Tulsa County to be the “meth capital of the world,” with law enforcement discovering 979 contaminated meth labs. Not only did Tulsa County’s nearly 1,000 labs top the list, but it did so at a significant margin, with nearly twice the meth labs of the second ranked county. Oklahoma County had nearly 400 labs.
While the number of meth lab busts decreased from 830 in 2012 to 421 in 2013, according to Oklahoma Watch, the rate of meth overdose deaths increased, with 167 deaths attributed to meth, compared to 140 the previous year. The reason for an increase in meth deaths despite the decrease in discovered labs is likely due to the trafficking of Mexican meth into the state.
So what is the state doing in order to clean up its image? How is it going to reduce the rates of methamphetamine abuse and manufacture in Oklahoma?
It is going to do just what it has always done in fighting the “war on drugs”—impose heavy penalties for drug offenders, even for minor crimes like possession or small-scale manufacture.
Possession of methamphetamine, even as a first offense, is a felony. Many Oklahoma drug offenses carry mandatory minimum sentencing. Being arrested for meth possession, distribution, manufacture, trafficking, or violation of the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry Act is no laughing matter. The consequences are severe and their impact long-lasting.
If you are asked for permission to search your vehicle or property, do not give consent. Do not speak to police about whether or not you are in possession of methamphetamine or its precursors. If you are arrested for a meth offense, contact Coventon Criminal Defense for help.
While a first offense of marijuana possession for personal use is a misdemeanor, the law is not so lenient when it comes to other Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances. According to 63 O.S. § 2-402 (B)(1), possession of a Schedule I or II drug, like methamphetamine, is a felony. Even as a first offense, it is punishable by a minimum of 2 years in prison, with a maximum of 10 years for possession of a Schedule I or II CDS. For a second offense, the penalty is doubled: 4 to 20 years in prison.
Those penalties are simply for possession for personal use.
If a person is charged with meth manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, he or she faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
One of the reasons for meth’s popularity since the late 1990’s and the reason so many meth labs are discovered in Oklahoma and in small towns around the nation is its relative ease of production. Meth can be made using relatively commonplace ingredients—including the over-the-counter cold medicine pseudoephedrine—and it can be made just about anywhere. Early meth labs often involved cooking meth in bathtubs, but “shake and bake” methods have been developed in which a person can cook meth in a pop bottle. This has led to the discovery of one-pot labs in some strange places—in a golf course port-a-potty and inside a Tulsa Walmart, for example.
However, methamphetamine manufacturing has some serious risks: toxic fumes and contamination, fires, and meth lab explosions are just some of the dangers associated with meth manufacture. The OSBN says that it costs approximately $2,000 to clean a single meth lab, and the agency spends more than a million dollars annually on cleaning costs.
Because of the dangers of meth, from fueling addiction to environmental contamination to injuries and property damage from fires and explosions, the legal penalties for meth manufacturing are severe. If you are convicted of manufacturing meth in Oklahoma, you face 7 years to life in prison—even for a first offense.
One of the ways Oklahoma attempts to crack down on methamphetamine abuse and meth manufacturing is to make certain acts, which are legal for other Oklahomans, illegal for those who have been convicted of meth-related crimes.
Almost everyone is familiar with the sex offender registry. Some are aware that the state also has a violent offender registry. Many do not realize, however, that Oklahoma has a third type of criminal registry—the meth offender registry—that is publicly available through the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs website.
The purpose of the registry is to keep meth precursors—most notably pseudoephedrine—out of the hands of people who have been convicted of meth offenses, whether or not their conviction involved manufacturing.
In fact, according to 63 O.S. § 2-701, the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offenders Registry Act, anyone convicted or subject to a deferred sentence for any of the following crimes involving methamphetamine must register as a meth offender:
The offenses are not limited to actual methamphetamine, but also to any of the above crimes involving illegal amounts or uses of pseudoephedrine.
It is illegal for anyone subject to the meth offender registry to possess pseudoephedrine, including over-the-counter cold and sinus medications containing pseudoephedrine. A doctor’s prescription for the substance does not exempt a person from the requirements of the registry, and pharmacists and other dispensers of OTC medications are required to check the OBN database of meth offenders before selling pseudoephedrine or medications containing pseudoephedrine.
Violation of the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offenders Registry Act is a felony for persons required to register. Possesssion of pseudoephedrine in violation of the Act is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
It is also a violation of the Act to attempt to help a person subject to the registry to obtain pseudoephedrine. A first offense is a misdemeanor, but a second offense is a felony punishable by 2 years in prison.
Oklahoma has some of the toughest drug laws in the nation. Virtually every drug crime in the state is a felony, and many carry mandatory minimum sentences. Finding experienced defense representation is critical to the outcome of your case. Call Coventon Criminal Defense or submit our confidential case review form to schedule your free consultation.