The goal is to combat the rise in methamphetamine use over the last few years. With proposed legislation in hand this session for the Tennessee General Assembly, local legislators have mixed feelings about the best way to achieve that goal.
“I haven’t made a formal decision on the subject, but we can explore alternatives. I’m not comfortable with outlawing things for the public just because a few people have abused it,” newly-elected State Rep. Andy Holt commented recently.
Holt is referring to a trend that is taking place in other states’ general assemblies. The bill proposed, just recently in neighboring Kentucky, requires a prescription to obtain any cold-medicine products containing pseudoephedrine – the main ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine.
The legislation is being proposed in several states across the nation.
Critics of the legislation say the bills would drive up health care costs by requiring doctors’ visits for the common cold.
There is an alternative, some legislators admit, and it comes in the form of Tennessee SB325/HB234 proposed by Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet) and Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) last week.
The introduced legislation calls for the adoption of a statewide, industry-funded electronic tracking system called NPLEx (the National Precursor Log Exchange), designed to monitor and stop illicit purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy products containing pseuodoephedrine.
For those wanting to purchase more products containing pseudoephedrine above the legal limit, the system would apparently deny the sale and the data would be logged for law enforcement to ultimately track the information.
Holt showed his favoritism of the system and proposed legislation.
“There’s an alternative – a prescription database. There’s a real-time database already put in place in pharmacies and we’re looking to piggyback off that system and just add pseudoephedrine into that system,” Holt commented.
According to information provided in a press release about the proposed legislation, the leading manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine are working with state legislators and law enforcement to help implement NPLEx technology to pharmacies and retailers in the state free of charge.
Long-time Democratic Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden said the time to act is now to help alleviate the burdens of methamphetamine use and production.
“Meth is just killing too many and ruining those that it does not kill. I hate that this action is necessary, but it is and I think it will make a different. What we’re seeing outside the State of Tennessee tells us that it will work inside Tennessee,” Herron noted.
The state senator recently noted that legislation requiring prescriptions for products containing pseudoephedrine is also on the table for the State of Tennessee.
If the General Assembly opts to pass SB325/HB234, it would become the 13th state in the nation requiring a statewide e-tracking system to block illegal sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine.