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Dr. Coburn Passes Amendment to Protect Oklahoma's Anti-Meth Law

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Passes Amendment to Protect Oklahoma's Anti-Meth Law

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today successfully amended proposed federal anti-methamphetamine legislation, S. 103, in order to protect Oklahoma's existing and highly effective anti-methamphetamine law. The Coburn amendment eliminated a provision that would have allowed S. 103 to preempt and nullify existing state anti-methamphetamine laws. The Coburn amendment was accepted unanimously by a voice vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. S. 103 was voted out of committee and will go to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

"I'm pleased that my colleagues took action to protect existing and effective anti-meth laws in states like Oklahoma. This amendment will ensure that a federal ‘one-size-fits-all' solution does not water down Oklahoma's successful law," Dr. Coburn said.

"We can be proud that Oklahoma has set the gold standard in terms of anti-meth legislation. In fact, the federal bill adopts many of the standards already in Oklahoma's law," Dr. Coburn said.

S. 103, sponsored by U.S. Senators Jim Talent (R-MO) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), will make pseudoephedrine products, which are the main building blocks for methamphetamines, a Schedule V drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule V drugs can only be sold at a pharmacy. A consumer will be able to purchase 7.5g of pseudoephedrine in a 30-day period and will sign a log book and show photo identification. S. 103 also requires the U.S. Attorney General to set up a national electronic tracking system so methamphetamine traffickers cannot run from store to store to stock up on pseudoephedrine products.

"The Judiciary Committee took a bold step today to combat methamphetamine abuse while respecting state's rights. When this bill comes to floor of the Senate I will stay vigilant and continue to protect the right of Oklahoma to write and enforce its own anti-meth laws," Dr. Coburn said.

Among the groups that sided with Dr. Coburn in opposing the preemption provision were Lonnie Wright, the Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangers Drugs, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, the National Association of Attorney's General, the National District Attorney's Association, the National Narcotic Officers' Association Coalition, and the Fraternal Order of Police.

In the past year, Oklahoma's anti-meth law has produced impressive results:

* Some counties reported as much as an 80 percent decrease in meth lab seizures while metro police departments saw a decrease in seizures from about one meth lab seizure every other day to only 2 or 3 seizures per month in the first months the law went into effect. These reduced numbers have stayed consistently low throughout the first year after enactment.
* According to the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center, meth-related sentences have dropped from 50 to 26 per month since this law passed.
* Other Oklahoma organizations are reporting great success in the wake of Oklahoma's law. Oklahoma City's main burn center went eight straight months without a meth fire victim after having 17 fires with victims in 2003. So far in 2005 there has only been one meth fire victim.
* In Tulsa, the number of children assessed for meth-exposure decreased from 25 in 2003 to only four in 2004.

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