Pubdate: Fri, 15 Oct 2004
Source: Tullahoma News (TN)
Copyright: The Tullahoma News 2004
Author: Wayne Thomas
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Members of the Governor's Task Force on Methamphetamine Abuse Say They 
Learned a Lot During a Meeting Held at Franklin County High School Last Week.

During the meeting that was hosted by State Rep. George Fraley, the 
lawmaker stated that Franklin County "is located at ground zero of the meth 
problem" in Tennessee. He pointed to a map that showed Franklin County was 
at the center of the heaviest number of methamphetamine labs.

After the hour and a half meeting, Will Pinkston, Special Projects 
Director, office of the governor stated that he felt that they had received 
valuable information from the approximately forty people in attendance. 
"Chief [Dennis] Young's comments reinforced the need to communicate more 
information on the challenges related to bonding meth offenders," Pinkston 

Task Force member Russ Spray, who is CEO of Southern Tennessee Medical 
Center, stated that he had discussed the problem with Young and others and 
that he has heard about the problems with no set bonds for meth users. 
"Judge [Tom] Faris has helped a lot by increasing the bonds for first time 
meth producers to $25,000," Young stated.

But comments from Director of Schools Dr. Charles Edmonds apparently got 
the study group to thinking. Edmonds stated that he felt the state needed 
to come up with a statewide curriculum from Kindergarten through grade 12 
about the dangers of methamphetamines. "The Departments of Education and 
Health need to develop a study plan that every school in the state can 
use," Edmonds told the group.

Pinkston asked the director of schools if there was enough material 
available for such a program and he stated that there is. Cindy Kilpatrick 
the supervisor for the Department of Child Services in Franklin County 
stated that she has found numerous publications on the Internet that is 
helpful and could be used by the schools across the state.

One of the concerns expressed was about the cleaning up of property where 
the illegal drug has been produced, especially about whom should pay for 
the cleanup and the standards needed to clean up the property. "Law 
enforcement here in the county has been very effective in fighting the meth 
problem," County Mayor Monty Adams stated. "I feel like some of those using 
the drug have moved out of Franklin County. I feel like there should be 
some federal money available to help clean up property that has been 
contaminated by the drug's production."

Franklin County Sheriff's Department Investigator Mike Bell, who was part 
of group of officers who carried out a raid on one of the first meth labs 
in the state, told the group that he felt that "this [task force] is about 
ten years too late."

Bill Green, a candidate for state representative addressed the group, "tell 
the governor to move this problem to the front burner." Green also stated 
that he felt Gov. Phil Bredesen needs to realize that something needs to be 
done about the problem now and "not in four or five years." He also stated 
that he feels that until the problem reaches epidemic proportion in the 
major cities that "nothing will be done about it."

The chairman of the task force, Agricultural Commissioner Ken Givens, 
stated that the "governor is interested in the problem" and that it is the 
job of the task force to come up with a plan to combat.

Young told the group that the meth problem in Franklin County is the worst 
thing he has seen in his twenty plus years in law enforcement. "Last week a 
Franklin County High School teacher who teaches the tenth grade stated that 
they asked if anybody knew someone using meth and they did," Young 
explained. "And eight out of ten students in the class knew how to cook 
meth." The police chief then told the group that during a recent raid, 
officers found the recipe for cooking the illegal drug in the closet of a 
15-year-old girl. "It is everywhere," Young exclaimed.

Winchester Police Investigator Herb Glassmeyer told the committee about 
going to what he called a "mom and pop" convenience store and purchasing 
most of the items needed to produce the illegal drug. "But when I told them 
I needed all of the ephedrine [a main ingredient in the production of the 
addicting drug] they told me I could only buy six boxes at a time. I told 
them I was out of work and was making meth and that I needed the 
money.  They told me to go down the road and come back and they would sell 
me more. I did and they did."

The investigator stated that he felt stronger laws should be enacted to 
limit the sales of ephedrine and Psuedoephedrine. He was told that limiting 
the sells of the materials to produce the drug, especially ephedrine 
products, is one of the recommendations of the Task Force to the governor.

Pinkston pointed out that requiring ephedrine products to be placed behind 
the counter and signed for by the purchaser is one of the things the task 
force is recommending.

Franklin County Drug Investigator George Dyer passionately told the 
committee of going into houses where the drug is being produced and 
removing "babies that could barely breath" because of the drug. "You aren't 
going to do any good if you don't make the sale of ephedrine illegal," Dyer 

Young told of a new process for cooking the illegal drug that doesn't 
require the use of matches. "This one uses lithium out of lithium 
batteries," Young stated. He noted that he had just learned of the use of 
the battery material from an investigator in the Memphis area.

Winchester Police Sgt. Danny Mantooth stated that he had learned of a local 
man "who has been using lithium for a while."

Decherd Mayor Betty Don Henshaw, who is also a pharmacist, stated that she 
felt that the state needed to take Pseudoephedrine off of the list of items 
that are paid for by TennCare. "We have people come in all of the time with 
prescriptions for ephedrine and get it and use TennCare," Henshaw stated.

"You can outlaw the sell of ephedrine here and people will drive to 
Alabama, Georgia or Kentucky and buy it," Bell stated.

Pinkston informed him that the governor is "hoping for a tough policy" that 
will be an example for surrounding states to follow. He also noted that 
several states are taking tough stands against the drug. "Oklahoma, which 
has had a worse problem than Tennessee, enacted the toughest 
pseudoephedrine law in the country in April. It has resulted in at least a 
50 percent decline in meth labs," Pinkston stated. "Oregon, last week, 
began pushing for a similar law. The White House drug czar is actively 
endorsing these and other efforts because they can make a difference."

Edmonds told the Task Force that he felt that education is what is needed 
for the prevention of the use of the drug. He then stressed his point that 
the state needs to develop the curriculum for statewide studies.

"The Agricultural Department and Health Departments need to endorse such a 
curriculum," Givens stated. "The three people who need to be here today are 
not here,"

Stanley Turner who is a Huntland Alderman and a State Probation officer 
stated. "The three Franklin County Circuit Court Judges need to be here, as 
they have more to do with the penalty phase." Turner then told of a person 
whom he is overseeing her probation and that her family wants her 
"prosecuted federally to get her off of meth." He stated that the woman has 
been arrested four or five times for meth production and she is given "120 
days" in jail.

One of the task force's recommendations is long term rehabilitation and Ken 
Stewart of Cornerstone Mental Health explained that he is glad to see 
"rehab come back" into consideration for helping the problem.

Franklin County District Attorney Mike Taylor and his assistant Steve 
Blount were in attendance and stated that they felt the meeting was a step 
in the "right direction." Taylor liked the idea restricting the sale of 
Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. He pointed out that by restricting the sale 
of the product they can't make meth.

Members of the committee were impressed at the comments they received as 
they noted that the need to educate from K-12 grades hasn't really been 
brought "to the forefront" in other meetings that the task force has held.

"The governor is definitely studying Dr. Edmonds suggestions on the 
development of an educational plan," Pinkston stated. 
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