Newsbrief: Oklahoma Uses Civil Suits in War on Meth 10/25/02

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Oklahoma prosecutors are trying a novel legal tactic in their effort to suppress methamphetamine production in the state, which ranks fourth in the nation in meth lab busts. On October 16, Attorney General Drew Edmondson announced that his office had filed a civil lawsuit against six Oklahoma County companies and two individuals who allegedly sold large amounts of pseudophedrine, a key ingredient in meth manufacture.

In a press release, Edmondson's office touted the lawsuit as the first time in the state and probably the nation that authorities had used the civil courts to go after suppliers of precursor drugs. The lawsuit charges four supply houses and two markets with negligence, creating a public nuisance, and conspiring to evade limits on pseudophedrine purchases. It seeks unspecified damages to compensate communities for "costs incurred in cleaning up meth lab sites and punitive damages to punish these defendants and deter others from recklessly selling pseudophedrine." The lawsuit also asks the judge to dissolve the businesses and to permanently enjoin these defendants from ever selling pseudophedrine again.

Under federal law, wholesale distributors must be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to lawfully sell pseudophedrine. Oklahoma has only 35 registered wholesalers and six of them are named in the lawsuit. According to Edmondson, the wholesalers supplied more than 6.9 million tablets during the first seven months of this year.

"Pseudophedrine is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications," said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director Malcom Atwood. This lawsuit concerns so-called 'gray market' pseudophedrine, a name given by law enforcement to those brands not usually used as medicine but which are popular with methamphetamine manufacturers.

Attorney General Edmondson had been criticized the week before for lax meth enforcement by the Republican candidate for the position, Denise Bode. Bode joined Edmondson and Atwood at the press conference last week announcing the lawsuit.

Click here for the full text of the attorney general's press release.

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Issue #260, 10/25/02 Antiprohibitionists Meet at European Parliament in Brussels | Vigilante Drug Bust in Arizona Opens Window into World of Hurt on Mexican Border | Election 2002:00:00 Governor's Races of Interest | Smoke Dope to Fight Chemical Warfare Attacks? Israeli Activists Say Check It Out | This Week's Cop Corruption Story: Two Texas Villarreals | Newsbrief: Federal Court Upholds Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients | Newsbrief: Bill to Ban Salvia Divinorum Introduced | Newsbrief: In Ecuador, Plan Colombia Foe Appears Headed for Presidency | Newsbrief: Feds to Prosecute Ayahuasca Case | Newsbrief: Baltimore Killings Bring More of the Same Old Policies | Newsbrief: Richmond, Virginia Drug Sweep Underway | Newsbrief: Massachusetts Reform Advocates Release Decrim Study as Elections Near | Newsbrief: Oklahoma Uses Civil Suits in War on Meth | Newsbrief: U Missouri SSDP, NORML in Marijuana Petition Drive | Newsbrief: Ontario Court Authorizes Crackdown on Marijuana Growers | Quote of the Week: William Raspberry | Web Scan: DRCNet in the Media, Dan Forbes on Alternet, VoteHemp, Change the Climate, Journey for Justice, Sydney Morning Herald | Job Opportunity: PreventionWorks, Washington, DC | Errata: Polling on San Francisco Proposition S | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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