Meth registry proposed for Oklahoma

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 4:57 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A bill introduced in the state House would establish an online registry for anyone convicted in Oklahoma of making or distributing methamphetamine.

The registry would be similar to one now in place for sex offenders.

At a news conference Monday, House Speaker Todd Hiett said Oklahoma has had success cutting down on meth labs by enacting legislation that limits sales of cold medicines containing a chemical used in making the illegal drug.

But he said meth problems remain and labs pose a public safety threat.

"Oklahomans deserve to know if a lab could be in their community," Hiett said.

Rep. John Nance, R-Bethany, said property owners can use the database to refuse to rent to someone convicted of manufacturing or distributing meth.

"Meth labs are not only a health hazard, but the chemicals used can completely ruin a property. It contaminates homes and buildings and new tenants or buyers can get sick if the chemical residue isn't eliminated," Nance said.

Under the proposed law, people listed on the meth registry could have their names removed if they have a clean record for seven years. The bill is patterned after a law enacted in Tennessee.

Scott Rowland, general counsel for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, said he sees no legal reasons that would prevent the state from establishing the registry.

Nance said the Web site containing the registry will warn the public of the dangers of meth consumption.

"We're in the information age and we should be using the power of the Internet to fight a statewide problem," he said. "Meth has been a plague in our state and I've seen it in my own community. Oklahomans should be able to easily access public information about meth manufacturers and this accomplishes that goal."

Lonnie Wright, director of the OBNDD, said raids on meth labs had dropped from about 100 a month to the single digits because of the law limiting the sales of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

Wright said the problem now is that Mexican drug cartels have stepped up the sale of the finished product, which costs about $1,500 an ounce, compared with a cost of $43 an ounce for meth made in makeshift labs.