Newsbrief: Oklahoma Lawmakers to Move Against Sudafed in Meth Battle 1/16/04

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Oklahoma lawmakers are preparing to submit legislation that would restrict the sales of popular over-the-counter decongestants, such as Sudafed, as part of the state's war on methamphetamine and its users. The products contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in at least one method of homemade meth manufacture. According to Oklahoma law enforcement officials, more than 1,300 meth labs were busted in the state last year.

Reuters reported this week that state Senator Dick Wilkerson (D-Atwood) will sponsor a bill now being drafted that would ban convenience stores and gas stations from selling products containing significant amounts of pseudoephedrine and force pharmacies to offer it only behind-the-counter. Customers who wished to purchase Sudafed or similar products would have to register their names with each purchase, and purchase amounts would be limited.

"Is it a big industry secret that meth is a highly addictive, easily made drug?" Wilkerson asked. "No." He told Reuters he would introduce the bill early next month.

Over-the-counter medicine sellers are not amused. "We don't think legislation is the way to do it," said Donna Edenhart, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "The over-the-counter-products that contain those chemicals are helping millions and millions each year," she told Reuters.

Other common items that can be used in cooking meth include rock salt, battery acid, red phosphorous road flares and anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer not readily available for purchase but found in storage tanks in many rural communities, he said. No word yet on when the Oklahoma legislature will ban rock salt.

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