Okla. AG: Cities cannot require prescription to buy cold medicine

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 1, 2011, 1:00pm


OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) -- Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says a municipality cannot require a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient used in the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine.

"No State statute expressly authorizes Oklahoma municipalities to enact ordinances regarding the dispensing, sale or distribution of pseudoephedrine," according to Pruitt's opinion, released Friday.

The attorney general's opinion was requested by state Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow.

Some municipalities in the state are now requiring a prescription to purchase the medication, used by most as a nasal or sinus decongestant.

"A municipality that undertakes to enact an ordinance prohibiting the dispensing, sale or distribution of pseudoephedrine except upon the order of a lawful prescription removes an option carefully preserved by the Legislature for persons desiring to lawfully obtain pseudoephedrine without the necessity or burden of obtaining a prescription," Pruitt wrote.

"In enacting its present policy, the Legislature has exercised its legitimate power to address a general, statewide concern, and has chosen to preserve the freedom of the consumer to acquire needed pseudoephedrine without the necessity, inconvenience and potential expense of first obtaining a legal prescription."

Pruitt said any attempt by a municipality to prohibit the sale of the medication through an ordinance would conflict with the state's current policy regulating such transactions.

Any such ordinance, he said, would be considered "unauthorized, void and unenforceable."

Ritze told the Tulsa World that a number of municipalities in his district were looking for answers on the issue.

"As a physician, I think it will put far more people in an inconvenient situation," the lawmaker told the newspaper.

"I understand the other side of the argument that it is a terrible crisis with methamphetamine."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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