Carrying large quantities of certain prescription drugs would be added to the list of crimes for which a person could be charged with drug trafficking under a bill introduced in the state House of Representatives.
“I think it's a big problem across the state,” said state Rep. Pat Ownbey, author of the bill. “I think society doesn't realize what kind of major problem we have with prescription drugs in Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma's drug trafficking laws currently pertain to illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine.
House Bill 2589 would add the possession or distribution of large quantities of morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam (Xanax) to that list.
Under the bill, carrying 1,000 grams of a mixture containing morphine, 400 grams of an oxycodone mixture, 50 grams of a hydrocodone mixture or 15 grams of a mixture containing alprazolam would be punishable by a fine of $100,000 to $500,000 and prison time.
Ownbey, R-Ardmore, said he believes the bill is important because current law doesn't differentiate between a person caught with one pill without a prescription and a person caught with two carloads. The person can only be charged with possession of a controlled substance, which he said doesn't carry sufficient penalties to deter traffickers.
“Quite frankly, prescription drugs are causing a lot more problems for our society than any of the other drugs,” he said.
Darrell Weaver, executive director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, said his agency supports the bill.