To combat methamphetamine use in Rhea County, the Dayton City Council is considering an ordinance that would make all medications that contain pseudoephedrine or ephedrine prescription-only. Common medications containing pseudoephedrine include Benadryl, Dayquil, Motrin, Robitussin, and Sudafed, as well as most other over-the-counter cold or flu treatments.
Dayton Police Chief Chris Sneed and the District Attorney of the 12th Judicial District, Mike Taylor, both addressed the City Council, speaking in favor of creating the ordinance.
District Attorney Taylor said that dealing with meth is an “incredible” cost to the state, mentioning medical costs and the expense of caring for children taken into state custody. He said that in Rhea County alone, 23 meth labs have been found.
He also said that meth was the cause of a lot of local robberies. He said, “Methamphetamine is an engine and it drives all kinds of other crime.” He claimed that locally produced meth is 90 percent pure, while the meth that comes from labs in Mexico is only around 50 percent pure. Because of this, he said there is a higher demand for meth produced in the area.
As part of Tennessee’s Methamphetamine Task Force, District Attorney Taylor helped push for the current legislation regarding the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Since 2005, anyone purchasing medications containing these substances must show an ID and can only purchase a certain amount per month. Legislation to make pseudoephedrine-containing medication prescription-only statewide has been introduced, but it did not pass.
However, District Attorney Taylor said, “The meth cooks aren’t stupid.” He said they got around these laws through a process he called “smurfing.” According to him, “smurfing” is when a small group of people go to purchase the needed supplies so that no one person is purchasing over the legal amount.
Because of this, he believes that stricter legislation is needed. According to District Attorney Taylor, if the ordinance passes, pharmacists could still provide customers they knew with their medications without a prescription from a doctor. He did not explain exactly how this would be regulated.
Ordinances like this have already been passed in several counties, including Franklin, Weakley, Grundy and Giles. He said that because of this, meth production has dropped in these areas.
Instead of voting on an ordinance, the City Council decided the issue needed to be discussed with the public first.