Tennessee State Rep. Eric Watson joined Director Michael Botticelli, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Deb Beck of the National Alliance for Model Alliance for Model State Drug Laws in Washington DC for a discussion on key drug policy issues facing the Nation. Topics included opioid abuse and diversion, “smart on crime” initiatives, and intergovernmental strategies for states to partner with the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
This is the second year that Rep. Watson has been selected to testify on public policy issues of national significance.
“It was an honor to represent Tennessee at the Nation’s Capital,” said Rep. Watson. “The experience will allow me to work with my colleagues in the General Assembly to advance effective drug control strategies in our great state.”
As chairman of the House Criminal Practice Committee, Rep. Watson oversees efforts to prevent illegal drug use in Tennessee communities, strengthen drug treatment services, disrupt domestic drug production and trafficking, and improve drug-related information systems.
Last year, Rep. Watson championed the passage of Tennessee’s Prescription Safety Act, which made it one of two states to require all pharmacies to report any Schedule II, III, IV, or V prescriptions to the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database. The law also requires a physician to check the CSMD prior to prescribing these controlled substances and do so again every year when the prescribed substance remains part of treatment.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, which surveyed Tennessee prescribers on the new requirements, “Almost 80 percent [of respondents] said that they think the CSMD is useful for decreasing the incidence of doctor shopping. Over 70 percent said they have changed a proposed treatment plan for a given patient after viewing the information found in the CSMD. Nearly 72 percent said they are more likely to discuss substance abuse issues/concerns with their patients.”
Additionally, Rep. Watson was instrumental in pushing for physician protection against the use of fake and forged prescriptions.
“Patients must present a current and valid government issued identification or current health insurance card issued by either a government or private insurer in receiving prescriptions,” Rep. Watson said. “This allows the pharmacist to immediately and accurately identify who is collecting the medication, thus minimizing fraud, diversion and abuse.”
Rep. Watson also spearheaded efforts to prevent common forms of drug diversion, including the process by which popular cold and allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine is illegally diverted into methamphetamine by criminals. By supporting the implementation of the National Precursor Log Exchange, he not only supported technology that stops the illegal sale before it happens, but he gave law enforcement officials a valuable tool in the fight against meth abuse.
"Tennessee policymakers have long been committed to fighting meth production," said Rep. Watson. "I was proud to join a bipartisan group of lawmakers who came together around a balanced solution that tackles the criminal diversion of common cold and allergy products while maintaining affordable access to those medicines for honest Tennessee families who rely on them.”
Rep. Watson is currently serving his fifth term in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He lives in Cleveland and represents Bradley, Meigs, and Polk Counties. In 2012, he was appointed to the Tennessee Criminal Justice Council to focus on law enforcement needs across the state. He is also a graduate of the 2012 TBI State Academy inaugural class in which he was elected class president. He also serves as a law enforcement officer in Tennessee.
Rep. Eric Watson at the Drug Control and Policy Panel Discussion.