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Norman city councilman was fined last year by OBN

A recently re-elected Norman City Council member is one of 103 prescription-writing professionals who have had action taken against them by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs since 2009, records show.
by Andrew Knittle Published: August 27, 2012

A Norman City Council member is one of 103 doctors, dentists and others who have broken rules for prescribing controlled substances since 2009, records show.

Dr. James Griffith II, a dentist and member of the Norman City Council since 2008, was fined $7,500 by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs bureau after it was discovered he had been writing prescriptions for controlled substances without being registered with OBN for a period of 12 years.

The action against Griffith was finalized in May 2011 and he is now registered with OBN, bureau records show.

Griffith was on a list of 103 names obtained by The Oklahoman through an open records request. The prescription-writing professionals on the list all have had some kind of administrative action taken against them by OBN since 2009.

Jim Seely, the chief investigator at the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, said Griffith has never been disciplined, cited or had his license suspended or revoked during his two-plus decades in practice.

Griffith, who was easily re-elected to serve as Ward 6 councilman in April, said he realized his OBN registration had lapsed when he called the bureau to inquire about the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program, which is used to track prescriptions for controlled substances.

“I found it … they didn't notify me at all,” he said. “When I called to ask about the program, that's when I discovered my (registration) had lapsed.

“I took the steps to remedy the situation … they had nothing to do with. I caught it.”

During the 12 years Griffith wasn't registered with OBN, he admitted he continued to write prescriptions for controlled substances like painkillers — but very infrequently.

“It's not something I do on a regular basis,” he said. “It's typically in a very-much-needed situation when I do that.”

Griffith said he felt the bureau was “culpable” for the 12-year lapse in his registration, but that some of the blame rested on his shoulders, as well.

“They weren't willing to admit any responsibility in not communicating with me,” the dentist said. “After all, when I didn't pay, there was no notification that, hey, you haven't paid your license.”

“It was a long time … and frankly, that's damn scary,” Griffith said.

Extraordinarily long

Sandra LaVenue, deputy general counsel for OBN, said the 12-year period Griffith was not registered with the bureau but still wrote prescriptions for controlled substances was extraordinarily long.

LaVenue investigates doctors, dentists and other prescription-writing professionals who are suspected by the bureau of some kind of misconduct.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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