Roy Exum: Governor Haslam’s Halfway Right

Sunday, January 19, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Governor Bill Haslam took a half step towards a better Tennessee this week when he announced a bill that would limit the amount of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine that an individual can buy every 30 days. Some cold and allergy medicines contain the chemical compounds, which just so happen to be the key ingredients in a vicious street drug known as “Meth,” short for methamphetamine. Everyone agrees something must be done.

Tennessee ranks second – right behind Missouri – as the nation’s top producer of the tragic drug and while Governor Haslam’s earnest efforts are indeed commendable, the only thing that law enforcement officials around the country have found that really works is when state lawmakers demand that medicines containing pseudoephedrine cannot be acquired without a doctor’s prescription.

Right now there are two “prescription only” states – Mississippi and Oregon. What we should look at is the fact that during the 2012 calendar year, Missouri had 1,825 meth busts and Tennessee had 1,585. At the same time in the two “prescription” states Oregon had nine (9) busts and Mississippi had five (5). Are you kidding me? My view is that if we are going to fight meth we ought to go full bore, taking a big step instead of half of one.

Last Monday, several days before Haslam’s announcement, a group of lawmakers from Blount County introduced a bill in the legislature that would require a prescription and, meanwhile, pharmaceutical lobbyists are pounding the state representatives in an effort to oppose restrictive measures, giving all sorts of reasons pseudoephedrine should not become a Level 3 drug requiring a doctor’s signature.

When a customer buys over-the-counter medicines that contain pseudoephedrine in Tennessee they must produce a driver’s license, which is documented and entered into a computer network, and sign a form that the drugs will not be abused. (Ironically, patients are not required to do the same steps when they pick up prescription narcotics.)

Critics claim a prescription rule would unfairly force a person to see a doctor (the cost of the visit plus the time it takes) while advocates point to the fact there were about 250 more drug busts in the state this year than last, and what we are doing isn’t coming close to working.

Critics claim a prescription rule will only force the “meth cooks” to cross state lines for their ingredients but advocates claim other states will soon be forced to endorse the prescription rule if we, as a United States, are going to severely limit the manufacture of the illicit drug.

Critics claim most of the meth in Tennessee comes from Mexican cartels while advocates point to the fact the Tennessee’s courts are literally flooded with those who have been caught in the 1,700 busts during 2013 and very few are Mexicans.

Critics claim that 5 percent of the people – bad guys – shouldn’t make 95 percent (the good guys) suffer an undue hardship but advocates point to the enormous costs the taxpayers (the good guys) must bear because of meth (trials, jail, welfare, etc.) each year. The bad guys are bleeding the good guys dry!

Critics claim that the state, known for the high rate of allergies that challenge residents, must allow pseudoephedrine over-the-counter but advocates claim residents in Oregon and Mississippi seem to be doing fine with alternate over-the-counter medicines or prescriptions from their doctors.

Remember this, too. Almost 20 towns in Tennessee had introduced ordinances that called for “prescription only” before the state’s Attorney General, Robert Cooper, found the ordinances violated state law last December. The people who live in those towns preferred to get a prescription rather than find meth was being cooked in some vacant house near their neighborhoods and schools.

If towns like Winchester, Harriman and Decatur were willing to ask for “prescription only” status on their own, why shouldn’t the state legislators take a similar view and drive the meth cooks away from the state of Tennessee. That would be a huge step towards a better Tennessee and even the Governor will agree a big step is better than half of one.

royexum@aol.com


Roy Exum: A Lady Remembers Rex

Kevin Roden sits on the City Council in Denton, Texas (think the Dallas-Fort Worth airport area in the northeastern part of the state) and he is gearing up to run for a third term this spring. He’s already got his website up and, while the election isn’t until April, he writes on his blog every now and then. Last month he let his wife take a turn at it, which brings us to yesterday’s ... (click for more)

Where Has All Our Road Money Gone? - And Response

I travel four roads almost daily:  Dodds Avenue, Dayton Boulevard, Third Street and Northpoint Boulevard.  Why these roads cannot be repaired I will never know. I know, part of Northpoint is privately owned, by not the most. Just about everywhere you go the streets are in terrible shape. We need to get this resolved.  Joan Smith Chattanooga  ... (click for more)

School Board Votes To Issue RFPs For Private School Bus Service; Allows Independent Drivers To Add 20 Routes

The Hamilton County School Board voted unanimously to issue a Request-for-Proposals (RFP) to private bus companies at a special-called session early  Saturday  afternoon.   The vote came at the end of a two-day strategy session where the school board has confronted a list of challenges but the busing question, spurred by the tragic bus wreck in November ... (click for more)

3 People Shot Early Saturday Morning On East 3rd Street

Three people were shot on East 3rd Street early Saturday morning. They were identified as Countess Clemons, 24, Kezia Jackson, 23, and Dutchess Lykes, 26.   The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 2:40 a.m. to a person(s) shot call at a local hospital. All three victims were transported to the hospital via a personally-owned vehicle.   All three ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)