Tennessee Judiciary Committees Approve Legislation To Crack Down On Out-Of-State Drug Trafficking

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Senate and House Judiciary Committees approved legislation this week to attack a source of illegal drug activity in Tennessee. The bill, Senate Bill 3027 by Senator Steve Southerland and Representative David Hawk, would stiffen penalties against those who get prescriptions in another state and return to distribute the drugs illegally in Tennessee.

Action on the bill follows a 96.6 percent increase in drug-related deaths, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Some Tennessee law enforcement officers attribute the increase to the misuse of prescription drugs by those who obtain them legally from out-of-state “pill mills.”

“States across the South have seen an increase in crime stemming from the rise of pain clinics in Florida, where the laws are much looser than other states,” said Senator Southerland. “These are often referred to as pill mills. We have experienced major drug busts in several of my counties involving drugs obtained at these pill mills and sold illegally in Tennessee.”

The most common drugs found are OxyContin, Darvon, and Vicodin, but drug busts in Tennessee also have included Xanax and Roxicodones. The legislation would increase the penalties for the illegal trafficking of out-of-state drugs from a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a 30-day jail term and up to $50 in fines, to a Class D felony with a 2 to 12 years in prison sentence and up to $5,000 in fines.

“There have been vans of people involved in traveling to Florida pain clinics to pick up these prescriptions, which are intended for illegal resale,” said Rep. Hawk. “The fine is presently so low that it is not a deterrent. Narcotics agents tell us that a person can receive up to 120 OxyContins on a trip and return to sell them for as much as $80 per pill on the street. This is becoming a big problem in Tennessee as drug dealers are very proficient in knowing where to go to get prescriptions that are not tracked, and that includes out-of-state clinics.”

The lawmakers filed the bill after law enforcement officials in their East Tennessee counties brought the matter to their attention. Tennessee law requires all entities that dispense medications to file information on controlled substance on a state database to monitor abuse. That law has helped curb prescription drug abuse by providing information to those prescribing and dispensing the drugs to alert them of potential abusers.

Although 40 states have laws establishing drug monitoring programs, Florida is among those which do not have a program. That state now has one of the highest concentrations of pain clinics in the U.S., including those housed in shopping centers. This has caused other states to pass laws cracking down on offenders who traffic these drugs within their boundaries.

"This legislation is a very good start in addressing illegal drug activity due to the purchase of out-of-state drugs," added Senator Southerland. “Hopefully, this legislation will be approved so that we can curb this abuse.”


Alexander Confident Betsy DeVos Will Win Senate Approval For Secretary Of Education

Senator Lamar Alexander spoke on the Senate floor about Betsy DeVos, the nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. Senator Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate education committee, said, “Few Americans have done as much as Betsy DeVos has to help low-income children have a choice of a better school. The Democrats' opposition to her says more about ... (click for more)

Rep. Graves Says He Will Fight To Make Ban On Taxpayer-Funded Abortions Permanent

 Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) released the following statement after voting in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R. 7), which makes the ban on taxpayer-funded abortions permanent and prohibits the federal government from subsidizing insurance plans that cover elective abortion:  “I stand with the millions of ... (click for more)

City Officials Should Tour Our Roads - And Response (2)

As we near the election in March, now would be a good time for our city officials who are up for re-election to spend a little time exploring their realm.   I would invite them to take a scenic tour starting at Lake Resort Drive paying attention to the portion of the road which was recently repaired which now appears to be sliding back towards the lake again.  Follow ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Puzzling Women

After Rhonda Thurman left the “Enlightment” meeting of the Hamilton Country School Board Saturday afternoon, she must have been catching up on the news when she posted this message on her Facebook page: “I am really trying to understand. I am a woman and I cannot think of one "RIGHT" I do not have. Can someone enlighten me?” Not one person enlightened Rhonda because nobody could ... (click for more)

Big McClendon Curtis Leads Central Past Hixson

Central coach Rick Rogers knew this would be a long season for his Purple Pounder basketball team after his top seven players graduated last year. He’s exactly right, but things are headed in the right direction for Rogers as his team improved to 5-10 overall and 3-6 in District 6-AA with a heart-stopping one-point win at Hixson Monday night. That’s two wins in a row and the ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Bradley Central No. 1 And No. 2 In State Wrestling Poll

Now in its 25th year, The Poll is primarily a measure of  dual meet strength  with some consideration to individual tournament strength.   Votes are cast by a state-wide panel of high school wrestling coaches and are based on a maximum Power Ranking of 100%.   STATE POLL:   RANK ... (click for more)