Oklahoma cuts meth labs in half with nationwide registry

Meth continues to be a serious problem in the state, but law enforcement says things are getting better with a new pseudoephedrine registry.
"It's an epidemic. That's the only way to describe the meth situation here in Oklahoma," said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
We first told you about the registry last year when it went into effect. Woodward says by linking the database to neighboring states, it would cut down on criminals playing the system.
"They won't be able to just buy it here in Oklahoma, hit their daily limit, turn around and drive to Texas, Arkansas, Missouri or Kansas and do the same thing," Woodward said.
Now, state lawmakers say they want to copy the success of this program to fight other crimes.
Oklahoma has tried a number of approaches to keep products with pseudoephedrine out of the hands of people who make meth. A registry that limits the number of boxes you can buy worked early on, dropping the number of meth labs for five years. But criminals found ways around it and the number of labs spiked.
"Criminals are always going to find a way to figure out a way to build a better mousetrap and try to figure out ways to avoid the things we put in place to block them from being able to break the law," said state senator Clark Jolley.
Jolley helped author a law that keeps meth-cookers from going state-to-state to buy the drug. The system tracks who is buying pseudoephedrine, how much and whether they have prior meth convictions.
In 2012, 830 meth labs were shut down by police in Oklahoma. In 2013, that number was cut in half to 410.
"It's really cut the access to pseudoephedrine out of criminal's hands."
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics says the system blocked between 70,000 and 90,000 sales of the drug using the system.
Jolley says the state has seemed to find the right balance in stopping abusers, while still allowing law-abiding citizens who need the drug to buy it. But he says the fight's not over.
"My guess is they'll try to finger out another way of making their product, but this at least is eliminating this avenue for them."