Individuals carrying large quantities of prescription drugs would face drug trafficking charges under legislation approved unanimously by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
House Bill 2589 by State Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, would add morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and benzodiazepine to drugs listed under current drug trafficking law. Carrying 1,000 grams of a morphine mixture, 400 grams of an oxycodone mixture, 50 grams of an oxycodone substance or 15 grams of an benzodiazepine mixture would carry a penalty of a $100,000-$500,000 fine and prison time. Subsequent violations would carry additional prison time.
“Prescription drug trafficking is prevalent in Oklahoma,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “It affects all individuals and families at all income levels and all ages. Drugs are marketed as one product and turn out to be another. It leads to overdoses and addictions. It’s a terrible problem and I want to try to make a dent in the trafficking of these drugs.”
At least 15 states currently make prescription drugs subject to trafficking charges, Ownbey said. The four prescription drugs added represent those prescription drugs that have led to the most deaths in the state, he said.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Director R. Darrell Weaver said the agency supports the legislation.
“Prescription drug abuse is a formidable problem in our state and I applaud Representative Ownbey for his effort to attack the traffickers of these substances. We must be assertive toward the economic motivated pushers who make profits while peddling their illicit wares,” Weaver said.
The legislation was approved by a vote of 88-0 in the House. It will now proceed to the Oklahoma Senate.