The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control is the product of a lengthy evolutionary process. To better understand the stability and effectiveness which the present day OBN has brought to drug investigations and enforcement, it is necessary to consider its history.
In 1953 the Oklahoma State Legislature created the agency specifically to enforce drug laws. Designated the Division of Narcotics Enforcement, the agency operated under the State Attorney General for the next decade.
In 1964 the Division of Narcotics Enforcement became a casualty of political conflict between the Attorney General and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The agency was abolished, but received new life under the name of the Oklahoma State Bureau of narcotics.
The new Bureau of Narcotics was made directly responsible to the Governor's Office. Further, its offices were housed in the same building as the State Crime Bureau. Though the two agencies shared the same physical setting, they operated under separate Directors with separate funding and distinctly different responsibilities. The arrangement lasted four years.
Beginning in 1968, narcotics operations and drug related crimes accelerated at a frightening pace. The times called for a strong, flexible response to this new and altogether different challenge to state law enforcement. It was not forthcoming.
In 1968, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics was merged with the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation. By the end of the decade, despite a crucial and building need for drug enforcement, there was only one full-time narcotics agent in the state.
The State Legislature, recognizing that the problem had to be addressed, granted the OBI sufficient funds to establish a full-time narcotics unit staffed by ten agents. But by the beginning of the 1970's, most of those agents had been moved into other areas of investigation within OBI. Only three agents remained in the drug enforcement unit.
Something had to be done. It was. In a bold, forward move the State Legislature created and passed the Uniform Control Dangerous Substances Act of 1971.
The Act established the Office of the Commissioner of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. It was placed under the direction of the State Attorney General. The Commissioner's Office was to be responsible for the state's general interest in controlled drugs. Actual enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, however, was left to the OBI.
It soon became apparent to concerned citizens and political leaders alike that Oklahoma must respond actively and with great determination if the surging drug trade was to be controlled. In 1975, therefore, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics was reconstituted, more adequately staffed and equipped, and given the necessary autonomy to operate as a single most effective weapon in the struggle against those who would violate the law. With original jurisdiction statewide, OBN's performance under these new and unfettered conditions has been a tremendous success.