Muskogee’s meth problem is the worst in the state, local officials say.
Methamphetamine manufacturing is climbing dramatically in northeastern Oklahoma, especially in Muskogee.
In 2009, statistics show 32 meth labs were cleaned up by law enforcement. The number climbed to 110 in 2010 and 173 in 2011.
But this year, Muskogee’s Special Investigations Unit is on track to clean up about 400 labs.
And local and state officials say the latest anti-meth measure proposed in the state Legislature is all smoke and mirrors.
HB2941 will require Oklahoma pharmacists to use a national tracking system and will reduce the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased by two grams a month per person. The bill already passed the House, and it goes to the Senate floor sometime early this week.
Dr. Mike Stratton of Muskogee opposes HB2941. Stratton said he is a big proponent of making pseudoephedrine a prescription medication for a number of reasons — especially for children’s sake.
But Oklahoma legislators have already rejected two bills that would make pseudoephedrine tablets a prescription medication.
“This new bill will do nothing to protect our children, nothing to protect us from having some knucklehead from cooking it right next door to us,” Stratton said. “Until it’s made a prescription, we won’t be putting a stop to any meth labs.”
Stratton said he’s seen all too often in his years as a pediatrician families and children devastated by meth use.
“I’ve seen a 16-year-old girl have a baby that was hooked on meth, and you would have thought she wasn’t 16 but 55 years old,” Stratton said. “I’ve seen perfectly regular, productive people turn into garbage after getting addicted to meth.”
Former meth cooks and addicts recently weighed in on HB2941 — and their consensus is the bill won’t make much difference.
“All we do is get every Joe off the street to go buy it for us,” said Jerry Adamson, a resident receiving treatment at the Faith-Based Therapeutic Community Corporation in Muskogee County.
Adamson and several others spoke candidly about sales tracking, restricting amounts that can be purchased and how to really put a stop to meth.
Mark Seabolt, the founder of FTCC and a former meth addict and cook, Adamson and several others said making pseudoephedrine a prescription would seriously hamper their efforts to cook meth. Adamson said every law the Legislature puts through does help slow cooks down, and he hopes laws continue to follow drug trends.
But the real solution to meth, the group said, is making treatment and rehabilitation available to many more people.
“I think what everybody is getting at here, is that there isn’t a man in here that needs to be in prison,” said Adamson’s wife Shannon, who was visiting her husband. “They need to be right here getting faith-based rehabilitation.”
Every man at the table agreed, and some even said prison only made them better meth cooks.
“I went into prison with an associate’s degree in cooking meth,” Seabolt said. “I came out with a Ph.D.”