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: The Facebook Starlet

The Pants Store, a toney women’s boutique in Birmingham’s Mountain Book community, held its annual Holiday Open House about a week or so and, as usual, the popular store was full of customers and holiday cheer. It was a festive gathering, fun for all, but as store employees cleaned up for the next day, they happened across an empty designer-shoe box and a brassiere somebody had ... (click for more)

Senator David Perdue: I Have Heard Every Excuse Under The Sun - And Response

Here we go again. For the 19th consecutive year, Washington has not funded the federal government on time. As the current continuing resolution is expiring in the midnight hour, Congress is once again trying to pass a temporary fix three months after the beginning of the current fiscal year. This is ridiculous. In fact, Congress has only completed the full budget process four ... (click for more)

Tennessee Members Of Congress Urge President To Approve Federal Disaster Assistance For Tennessee Counties

Members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation on Saturday urged President Obama to quickly approve Governor Haslam’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Tennessee to help five Tennessee counties impacted by wildfires and severe weather in November rebuild and recover. “Governor Bill Haslam has submitted a request for Public Assistance and Individual ... (click for more)

Grohn Says Integrity And Ethics Lacking In Berke Administration

Mayoral candidate Larry Grohn criticized controversies and instability coming from the mayor’s administration as a sign of unethical leadership and a lack of integrity. He said, "These scandals lay out the simple fact that it is time for new leadership which is accountable to the people." Councilman Grohn’s criticism comes after the independent auditor’s release of a memorandum ... (click for more)

Cleveland Shocks Bradley To Win Cleveland Duals

CLEVELAND – There have been a lot of positive and memorable experiences for the Cleveland Blue Raider wrestling team in recent years, but they’ll have a tough time topping the one they had in their own gym Saturday. Hosting the annual Cleveland Duals and certainly a team considered one of the pre-tournament favorites, the Blue Raiders beat three of the top four teams in the state, ... (click for more)

Heights Rallies For 72-67 Victory Over Athlete Institute

Kentucky signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a team-high 26 points Saturday as Hamilton Heights rallied for a hard-fought 72-67 victory against Athlete Institute of Canada in the Buckeye Elite Showcase in Portsmouth, Ohio. The Hawks (7-2) built a 19-16 first-quarter lead, but fell behind 40-32 at halftime and still trailed 58-49 going into the fourth period at Portsmouth ... (click for more)