US Congress sub-committee looks at Oklahoma's anti-meth law

Friday, November 19th 2004, 6:21 am
By: News On 6

(AP) _ Oklahoma has seen a decline in lab seizures since the passage of an anti-methamphetamine law, but a federal official wants to see more data before recommending that Congress enact similar legislation.

In testimony Thursday before a House subcommittee, Joseph T. Rannazzisi, deputy chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Enforcement Operations, said Oklahoma law is too new, and that statistics covering at least a year would be needed before the DEA could determine how well it's working.

Rannazzisi cited a lag time in getting reports on meth-lab seizures from the field and said those figures often rise and fall.

``Is it promising?'' he asked. ``Absolutely.''

The law signed in April by Gov. Brad Henry limits the sale of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine tablets _ commonly used for nasal congestion _ to pharmacies.

Medications containing the substance are no longer are sold in convenience or other stores that don't have pharmacies. Purchasers are restricted to 9 grams a month and must provide photo identification and a signature.

Lonnie Wright, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, also testified before the Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, a story from the Washington bureaus of Tulsa World and The Oklahoman, said.

According to statistics distributed at the hearing, Oklahoma is averaging 65 lab seizures a month since April, compared with an average of 103 a month in 2003.

Also testifying were representatives from trade groups which are reluctant to credit Oklahoma's new law with the decrease in meth-lab seizures. They also criticized the law's impact on businesses.

``As great as it might sound, there is no `quick fix' to this complex problem,'' said Linda Suydam, president of Consumer Healthcare Products Association.