published Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announces new meth policy

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today proposed what he calls a compromise solution to the tug-of-war over whether cold medicines containing a key ingredient in methamphetamine should be sold by prescription only.

Haslam's solution, announced in a Nashville news conference, is to allow purchases of small amounts of such medicines under current rules but require prescriptions for larger amounts.

Haslam said the goal of his legislation, the Tennessee Anti-Meth Production (TAMP) Act, “is to limit access to pseudoephedrine or ephedrine products to those who are using it illegally while not overburdening law-abiding Tennesseans who need temporary cold and sinus relief.”

Pseudoephedrine is the effective ingredient in cold and allegy medicines such as Sudafed and Claritin-D. It's also the key ingredient in the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.

According to a news release, the most frequently purchased box size contains 2.4g of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, and in 2012, the average Tennessee consumer bought 4.8g for the entire year.

Provisions of the governor’s bill include the following:

• Individuals would be authorized to purchase up to 2.4g (the maximum recommended daily dose of 240 mg for 10 days) of products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine in a 30-day period by presenting a valid ID to a pharmacist, which is the way state law currently works.

If the consumer returns to purchase additional products, a pharmacist, at his or her discretion, may override the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) system to allow individuals to purchase up to 4.8 g (maximum recommended daily dose of 240 mg for 20 days) in that same 30-day period. * Anything above 4.8g in a 30-day period would require a prescription issued by a licensed physician, certified physician assistant, or authorized nurse.

This proposal would effectively give Tennessee the lowest state limit in the United States, according to the news release.

“We are targeting the so-called ‘smurfers’ who buy from a variety of stores in small quantities until they have enough to manufacture meth,” Haslam said.

See more in Friday's Times Free Press.

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