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


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Robert Stahl Would Serve East Ridge Well

The people of East Ridge would be well-served to elect Robert Stahl to the City Council.  People of Robert’s integrity and ability are needed at all levels of government.  I have known Robert Stahl for over 40 years and can attest to his credentials and qualifications to hold such an office. Robert is beyond a successful banker.  He is a family ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Firm Gets $1,010,000 Contract For Overseeing VW Expansion For New SUV Line

A Chattanooga firm is getting the contract for overseeing the construction work for the new SUV line at the Volkswagen plant. Officials said the EMJ Corporation has been selected for the project that will give a new surge of activity and employment at the plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. The work includes additions to the body shop and tech center and adding ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Stays Alive In State Volleyball

SMYRNA, Tenn. – As the old saying goes, It ain’t over til it’s over. That appears to be the philosophy for the Signal Mountain volleyball team as they beat the Harpeth Lady Indians in the opening match here at Stewarts Creek High School in the second day of the state tournament. Contrary to other reports in Chattanooga, the Lady Eagles had a letdown in their second match on ... (click for more)

South Greene Ends Boyd-Buchanan's Bid For State Volleyball Title

(Story will be updated) MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Tears flowed like spillwaters through the Chickamagua Dam locks. Players sobbed. Mothers creid. Grandmothers, too. It was a tough ending to Boyd-Buchanan’s volleyball season. The Lady Bucs (33-16) fell to South Greene, 3-2, at Blackman High School and was eliminated from the TSSAA Class A state tournament on Thursday. ... (click for more)