Meth registry should inform those on the list
BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, December 03, 2012
12/03/12 at 2:44 AM
The Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry established by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control two years ago is a good idea. In a state with huge numbers of methamphetamine-related convictions it's important for law enforcement and pharmacists to keep track of drug felons who try to purchase pseudoephedrine, a building block ingredient of illegal meth.
But last week an appeals court ruled that the registry doesn't provide for due process as evidenced by the case of Angela Michelle Wolf, convicted in Garfield County District Court of five counts of unlawful purchase of pseudoephedrine while subject to the registry. She received a 14-year sentence on each count after pleading guilty to the offenses.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Wolf's case saying that the law creating the registry failed to set up a procedure to notify those affected by it.
"The statute itself makes no provision that relevant persons should be informed they are subject to its requirements," the ruling said. "This is a violation of due process.
Wolf's attorneys had argued that their client was unaware that she was committing a crime by purchasing pseudoephedrine, an action that was otherwise legal because she hadn't been informed about the registry. Pseudoephedrine is found in many common cold and allergy remedies. Wolfe's original drug crimes - which landed her on the registry - were committed before enactment of the meth registry.
This is a problem easily fixed and that is exactly what OBN plans to do. Darrell Weaver, agency chief, said OBN's legal team will gather to discuss what's needed to comply with the order. He is not ruling out asking the Legislature to fix the statute.
The registry is an important tool. The problem pointed out by the appeals court is a serious one - everyone is entitled to due process - but luckily the registry's legal imperfections can be fixed. The sooner, the better.
Original Print Headline: Meth registry
Last week an appeals court ruled that the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry doesn't provide for due process. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file