Leaders Look For Solutions in Tulsa Meth Summit


Friday, June 17th 2011, 8:03 am
By: News On 6


NewsOn6.com & Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa County political leaders met with law enforcement Friday about the problems created by meth addiction.

At Friday's "meth summit," leaders searched for solutions to problems created by methamphetamine manufacture, sale and use.

Just last year, 883 people faced meth-related charges in Tulsa County.

Oklahoma made progress a few years ago by restricting over the counter sales with law to stop meth cooks, but now they've figured out how to get all the ingredients they need.

Tulsa County's District Attorney Tim Harris gave a passionate plea to a small but interested crowd.

"And the carnage on our people is too great compared to the inconvenience," he said.

Harris was preaching to the choir, mostly law enforcement and politicians. The summit was the idea of Tulsa City Councilors Rick Westcott and Chris Trail, who don't believe a local solution is the solution.

6/15/2011 Related Story: Fourth Oklahoma Town Approves Anti-Pseudoephedrine Tablet Ordinance

"Until this is handled on a statewide level, you're just passing this burden and this problem to your neighbors," Trail said.

The problem is the central ingredient of meth: pseudoephedrine tablets.

Since 2004, each Oklahoman can only buy a couple of boxes at a time. Unusual purchases trigger an investigation.

That law worked for a couple of years.

"So we had this nosedive when we put it behind the counter, but they have figured out how to get it with people signing for it, then they're going to them and buying it from them. They're going in and buying a $5 box of pseudoephedrine and they're paying $100 for it," Harris said.

"Normally summits are held to try to find solutions, but everyone at Friday's summit agreed on the solution, they just can't get the legislature to put it into law.

State Representative Doug Cox is a doctor who says legislators buckled instead of making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug.

Several other states already have.

"It's pure and simple. The pharmaceutical industry has a very strong lobby. They sent a Washington lobbyist disguised as a patient advocate to roam the halls of your capitol to argue against making pseudoephedrine prescription only," Cox said.

That's a great frustration for law enforcement because the legislature is out for the year so nothing will change until next spring at the earliest.

Prosecutor Harris says states that require prescriptions have a seen a dramatic reduction in the problem.