Pubdate: Fri, 25 Feb 2005
Source: Jackson Sun News (TN)
Copyright: 2005 The Jackson Sun
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Gov. Phil Bredesen's comprehensive legislative package aimed at fighting 
the scourge of methamphetmine in Tennessee represents a major step forward 
and should easily win the support of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. 
Lawmakers should move quickly to approve it so it can be signed into law.

The problems presented by meth are undeniable. The drug is cheap, easy to 
make and highly addictive. In the last few years, it has spread like 
wildfire throughout Tennessee. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement 
Agency, Tennessee now accounts for 75 percent of all meth lab seizures in 
the Southeast. Since 2000, the number of meth lab busts has almost quadrupled.

Bredesen's package attempts to deal with the meth epidemic on a number of 
fronts. It would:

Limit the sale of cold and sinus products containing pseudoephedrine, one 
of the main ingredients in meth. Many pseudoephedrine products would be 
placed behind the pharmacy counter and could only be dispensed by a 
pharmacist. Customers wanting to buy those products would have to show ID.

Close the "personal use" loophole that allows for lighter sentences if the 
drug is made only for personal use.

Require health professionals to report meth lab-related burns and injuries 
to law enforcement.

This legislative initiative is tremendously important. Of particular 
importance is the requirement that pseudoepherine be dispensed by a 
pharmacist. While that may seem like an added inconvenience to the average 
consumer, it may be the single most important thing we can do to get a 
handle on this problem. In Oklahoma, which has a similar law, the number of 
meth lab busts has declined 80 percent.

This initiative also is important because it takes a realistic approach to 
the problem. Not only does it deal with some of the inconsistencies in the 
current law, it makes this battle more of a team effort by forging a 
partnership between doctors and the police.

That kind of team effort is what it's going to take to turn the tide in the 
battle against meth. With this initiative, we would take a big step in the 
right direction.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom