Tennessee Should Not Go The Way Of Prescription-Only In The Meth Fight

Friday, December 20, 2013 - by Rep. Eric Watson
Methamphetamine continues to be a significant problem facing our community. It strains the resources of law enforcement. It drains the pocketbook of property owners who must clean it up. But far more importantly, it devastates families and communities.

We took an important step forward this week in the fight against this scourge. State Attorney General Bob Cooper told cities that they cannot legally require a prescription for products that contain pseudoephedrine, which is sometimes used to make meth.
 The authority, he said, rests with the state.

That puts the focus in the fight back where it belongs: stopping meth cooks at the sales counter when they try to buy more pseudoephedrine (PSE) products than the law allows. The State of Tennessee has an effective electronic system to do just that.

Known as NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange), the system blocks meth cooks and smurfers—individuals who illegally buy PSE products on behalf of meth cooks— by requiring an ID and alerting the pharmacy immediately if the buyer has exceeded the legal limit. Just as important, it lets law enforcement know who the meth cooks are.

What it does not do is punish innocent consumers by preventing them from buying popular cold, flu and allergy medicines they need.

A number of well-intentioned policymakers at the state and local level believe that requiring a prescription for PSE products will make a difference in the battle against meth production.  It will – but not the kind of difference they want.

For one thing, it would unfairly burden law-abiding citizens. Families would have to bear the expense of a doctor visit and a prescription, just for basic treatment for a cold or for the allergies that are so prevalent here. It would hit seniors especially hard, causing some to simply forego taking anything. At an advanced age, that can be particularly dangerous.

Moreover, in states where PSE prescription laws have been passed, use of meth has not declined. Instead, Mexican drug cartels have moved in with even more deadly forms of meth and business is booming.

“Meth use is as prominent as it always has been,” Hinds County (Mississippi) Sheriff Crieg Oster said in a recent news account. Mississippi is one of two states where PSE products require a prescription. “We’re seeing the higher grade of meth coming from Mexico.”

Police say 69 cartels are supplying nearly every ounce of meth in Oregon, the only other state with a prescription-only law. These are business-savvy money-makers who don’t depend on cold and allergy pills from the local drugstore and won’t be fazed by such a law. Nationwide, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says they control over 80 percent of the meth market.


So, let’s take a smarter route in Tennessee. Instead of passing any law to punish consumers, we should focus our efforts on making better use of the system we have. A tool like NPLEx works best when it is used diligently and universally. We need to makes sure that is happening.

That is where we can do the most good against the meth makers in our midst.

Rep. Eric Watson


Bible Thumping

Few Christians argue against the significance of the Bible.  I believe it to be the most important and relevant book in the civilized world. That's my opinion. I reached the conclusion slowly after much thought. That decision wasn't forced on me by my government.   Those interested in learning about the major religions of the world cannot become genuinely informed without ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Celebrate Autism’s Victories

As I was getting my salad during lunch at the sixth annual Chattanooga Autism Conference on Friday, a simple question from a friendly kid on the other side of the buffet gave me the answer I was seeking. “Do you have Asperger’s (syndrome),” he asked in a friendly way. I told him no, but that a growing number of folks I admire did, and that’s why I joined a turn-away crowd of ... (click for more)

Prominent Business, Civic Leader, And Philanthropist Scotty Probasco Dies At 86

Prominent Chattanooga business, civic leader and philanthropist Scotty Probasco has died at the age of 86. Scotty, as he was affectionately greeted by most of Chattanooga, was known for his modesty, generosity, dependability, and unswerving loyalty. “Great work” was always on the tip of his tongue – a manifestation of his joyous humility. He was a man of high ideals, of kind ... (click for more)

Chemical Odor In Lookout Valley Traced To Chattanooga Tank Wash

Chattanooga firefighters in Lookout Valley were sent out Friday night to investigate reports of a strange odor in the area. The firefighters searched the area, but never found the source of the odor.  John Schultz, an investigator with the Air Pollution Control Bureau, was also out Friday night and eventually tracked the source of the odor to a business, the Chattanooga ... (click for more)

CAK Beats Soddy-Daisy, 6-2, For Choo Choo Classic Softball Title

Christian Academy of Knoxville finished its run through the rain-shortened Choo Choo Classic with a 6-2 victory over Soddy-Daisy at The Summitt. Three of the Lady Warriors’ runs in the third – and last – inning came on Lady Trojans errors as the 70-minute time limit on the game expired to cap a marathon day in the tournament that was cut from two to one day by heavy rain earlier ... (click for more)

Geno Phillips Wins Third Chickamauga Chase 15K Title

There was almost an event for everyone Saturday morning in the 47 th running of the Chickamauga Chase. As has been the case from the beginning, there was the 15K main event that attracted 373 finishers while another 392 took part in the 5K.   And yet another 126 decided to stay off the road and participate in the eight-mile trail run. And while weather in recent days ... (click for more)