In 2005, Burdick and the three other lawmakers fashioned a law that made Oregon the first state to require a prescription for the purchase of the tablet form of pseudoephedrine … and the state’s drug and crime statistics plummeted.
Based on the success of the law there, legislators, prosecutors and others are pushing a similar law for Oklahoma, but not everyone in Oregon agrees that all the state’s good news in crime is the result of the pseudoephedrine restriction.
One statistic that almost everyone credits to the law is that meth labs have essentially disappeared from the state.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency statistics for 2004 show the state had 467 meth lab incidents – including police busts and dumped labs. Last year, there were only nine.
Several months ago, the Portland Police Department made a meth lab bust and it was remarkable because of its novelty, said Lt. Robert King, spokesman for the Police Department.
That’s no small accomplishment for the state.
It means the state hasn’t had meth lab fires that destroy property and people, including innocents.
It means the state hasn’t had to deal with the toxic sludge left behind by meth cooks.
It means the state hasn’t had to deal with the expenses of pursuing meth cooks and cleaning up their lab.
“We didn’t solve the meth problem … but we can honestly say we solved the home meth lab problem,” Burdick said.
Lincoln County (Ore.) District Attorney Rob Bovett said that alone is a huge accomplishment.
“Just getting rid of meth labs is vital to public health and safety, (and) drug-endangered children,” he said.
But as Oregon’s leading evangelist of the pseudoephedrine restriction movement, Bovett is inclined to credit the law with a broader range of accomplishments.
The website for his Oregon Alliance of Drug Endangered Children, tulsaworld.com/oregonmeth, links the law to fewer meth treatment admissions, fewer meth-related emergency room visits, and the fact that Oregon had the nation’s largest decrease in crime in the nation in 2008 and saw its crime rate at a 50-year low in 2009.
Oklahomans pushing for the same law here have not been shy about pointing to those statistics in their arguments.
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I think you can agree that this small change in the law requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine have made a huge difference in the quality of life for the people in Oregon.