The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

September 19, 2009

Program to cut use of meth has seen 90 percent reduction in labs statewide

A state law passed in 2004 has resulted in a decrease in the manufacture of methamphetamine, although the drug still is a problem in the area.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Fields said a comprehensive program of education, treatment and enforcement has been a key element in the fight against the drug, along with the state law making the cold medicine pseudoephedrine a Schedule 5 drug. The law was passed in May 2004 and requires pseudoephedrine to be sold behind the counter at a pharmacy and people purchasing it to show photo identification.

Prior to the law, pseudoephedrine was sold over the counter as an ingredient in nasal decongestants and some cough medicines at convenience stores and truck stops, and large amounts were diverted for illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, Fields said.

“We’ve seen a 90 percent reduction statewide in the number of meth lab cases. However, meth still is available, and the source has changed,” he said.

His statistics come from Oklahoma District Attorneys Council, Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Department of Justice.

District Judge Dennis Hladik became judge in 2006 and said in the past three years he has seen drug cases decline significantly. Today, he sees fewer methamphetamine cases than he did only a few years ago.

Homemade meth, manufactured locally in small labs, has been replaced in popularity by crystal methamphetamine, manufactured in large laboratories in Mexico and the southwest United States, Fields said.

Garfield County District Attorney’s Office has seen a reduction in overall drug cases since about 2005-06. The trend not only is in Oklahoma but nationally. During 2005-06, arrests peaked, and since then drug arrest rates have declined.

Since 2002, drug arrests among teens have declined significantly, although the number has remained level since 2005, Fields said. The most common drug used by teens remains marijuana, followed by methamphetamine and cocaine. Mari-juana also is imported from Mexico.

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