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


Traffic Light Needed On Hamill Road

Will the city of Chattanooga please do something about the massive traffic on Hamill Road from Highway 153 to Big Ridge? Trying to make a left turn from Crescent Club Drive from the side with no outlet is at times almost impossible, especially if several cars are waiting from Crescent Club. A traffic light or something is needed before some is hurt or killed at this intersection. ... (click for more)

Changing The Trajectory

We recognize the challenges that public schools face as well as the need for continued improvement. Our members are dedicated to reaching the goal of every child achieving at his or her highest potential. Every child in our country, no matter their socio-economic status, should have the right to receive a quality education.  Education must put children on a path to achieve ... (click for more)

Man Found With Home-Made Explosive Device Near Businesses In Hixson

A man was found with a home-made explosive device outside businesses in Hixson late Tuesday night.   A business was evacuated and portions of Highway 153 and Hamill Road were cordoned off while the device was taken away.   Joshua Redden, 34, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession ... (click for more)

Man Shot In Home Invasion Early Wednesday Morning

A man was shot in a home invasion early Wednesday morning.   Chattanooga Police responded to a person shot on the 6000 block of Arlena Circle at 4:40 a.m. Upon arrival, police located the victim, Edward Greatheart, 41,  who was suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound.   Mr. Greatheart was treated on the scene and transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

State Baseball Roundup: Blue Tornado Win 5-1, Get Shot At DII-2A Title

LEBANON, Tenn. – McCallie right-hander Jackson Mathis saved his very best performance for his swan song. Mathis, a senior who has decided not to pursue an extension of his baseball career while attending Auburn University, threw a four-hitter at Briarcrest on Wednesday night and led the Blue Tornado to a 5-1 win and into the TSSAA Division II-AA state championship game. ... (click for more)

Baylor Gets Offensive In Softball Win Over St. Benedict

MURFREESBORO – The two-time Division II defending state softball champion Baylor looks ready to challenge for another title. The Lady Red Raiders spotted St. Benedict an unearned run in the first inning, but came back strong to prevail by a 12-1 final in six innings. Wednesday’s win, Baylor’s 25 th against three losses, sets up a winners bracket final with arch-rival GPS, ... (click for more)