Oklahoma continues to struggle with a serious meth problem. The state is among the top in the nation for meth arrests, manufacture, and addiction, a distinction Oklahoma legislators and law enforcement would like to reduce. Despite programs such as the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services' (ODMHSAS) Oklahoma Methamphetamine Prevention Initiative (OMPI), meth abuse and manufacture continue to be a significant problem in the state. In 2011, law enforcement agents discovered 843 meth labs in the state, an 3 percent increase over the previous year. In Tulsa alone, officers discovered 429 meth labs, a staggering increase of 30 percent over 2010. With the ease of manufacturing meth through the one-pot method or "shake and bake" method, almost any location can be a meth lab. In fact, in December 2011, an Oklahoma woman was arrested after trying to cook meth inside a Tulsa Walmart, and yesterday, undercover drug agents in Purcell dismantled a meth lab discovered in a "porta-potty" in the middle of a golf course.
The reasons for meth's prevalence include its wide availability, its ability to provide a longer high than other drugs, its low cost, and its ease of manufacture using common legal ingredients and tools.
One attempt by legislators to crack down on meth in Oklahoma is to restrict the availability of the legal drugs used to manufacture meth. Pseudoephedrine, a common over-the-counter cold and sinus medication, is no longer kept on the shelves for easy access, and purchasers must show photo identification in order to buy the drug. If a person has been previously convicted of a methamphetamine-relate crime, he or she is unable to buy or possess pseudoephedrine. The Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry Act is designed to keep track of meth offenders and keep them from re-offending.
The Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry Act is detailed in the state's Public Health and Safety Code under 63 O.S. § 2-701. This law requires that anyone convicted of meth crimes, including possession, manufacture, distribution, or trafficking of methamphetamine and/or its precursors register as a meth offender. Anyone who is an Oklahoma meth offender is prohibited from purchasing or possessing pseudoephedrine, even if he or she has a prescription for the medication.
The registry is maintained by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDD) and is available to law enforcement agencies and pharmacies or locations that sell pseudoephedrine and meth precursors. Using the electronic methamphetamine precursor tracking service, the system is designed to stop the sale of meth ingredients to registered offenders at the point of purchase.
Information required by the state meth offender registry includes:
- Name, address, and date of birth
- The offense or offenses which made the person subject to the registry
- The date of conviction or the date the guilty plea or no contest plea was accepted by the court
- The county in which the offense or offenses occurred
- Any other information deemed necessary by the OBNDD
Violation of the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry Act is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of two to ten years. Furthermore, the Act prohibits anyone from assisting a registered meth offender in obtaining pseudoephedrine or meth precursors. Anyone who does so may be convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 on the first offense. Subsequent offenses are felonies punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum of two years in prison.
Last year, an Oklahoma drug crime defense lawyer appealed his client's conviction of violating the Act, saying that she was not informed that an otherwise legal activity--purchasing pseudoephedrine--was prohibited to her as a registered offender. The appeal led to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals striking down portions of the Act, ruling that the woman was not given notice of the stipulations of the Act, and was therefore denied due process.
If you are facing drug charges or have been charged with violating the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry Act, make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law, and move quickly to hire an attorney who is equipped to handle your defense. When you need a drug crimes lawyer in Oklahoma, contact attorney Ryan Coventon for help.