Like many other states, Tennessee believed making pseudoephedrine (one of the components of a meth recipe) would help them battle methamphetamines. They thought they could outwit the drug’s users or at least make it far more difficult for them to obtain the necessary ingredient. They clearly underestimated the resolve of an addict to get their fix and the motivation of their dealer/cooker to provide it to them.
According to the Tennessean, meth labs and meth use have not fallen like the state thought they would. Instead, the state finds itself on the top when it comes to meth problems.
“The figures now show that, according to the first three months of this year, Tennessee is No. 1 in the nation (for meth use),” said Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long, who is also a member of the state’s Public Safety Coalition.
In 2005, the state began making it more difficult for people to access pseudoephedrine. Now, you can purchase up to 3.6 grams of the over-the-counter decongestant at a single time and up to 9 grams per month. This adds up to about 120 pills each purchase or 300 pills per month.
But, methamphetamines users and cookers have found a way around this. They simply have someone else make the purchases. Called “smurfers”, meth cookers send in people to make the purchase, offering them some compensation in return. They may recruit the elderly, homeless folks, or users eager for a cut of the final product. Because of this, the change in access has not made so much as a dent in meth numbers.
A recent attempt to make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only died in subcommittee last week, pushing it back until at least 2014. Support for such a restrictive bill is lacking as lawmakers don’t want to restrict people with allergies, for instance, from getting the medication they need.
“We may never get to a full prescription, because I don’t think a full prescription is necessary,” said Representative Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport). “I don’t think 85 percent of Tennesseans are abusing this.”
And he’s right. Also, lawmakers have to balance the rights of the many with the wrongs of a few.
Adding to the problem is the fact of cost—funding clean-up costs for meth labs is an expensive venture and $750,000 set aside for it is set to run out at the end of this year.
One thing we don’t see lawmakers discussing much is treatment. Rather than addressing the problem (illegal drug trade) at its source (addiction), they seem to be content to put out fires on the back end.
If you are charged with a meth crime or any drug offense, you need someone who understands your problem and can help you get the best results possible in court. Contact our offices today for a free consultation on your case.