The head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told top state officials that Tennessee is in danger of becoming the top state in the nation in meth lab production.
Mark Gwyn, director of the TBI, issued the warning in a 30 minute budget presentation to Gov. Bill Haslam Wednesday in which he said the state was primed for greater heroin abuse because drug dealers offering lower prices have taken control of the market from Asian competitors.
"We're headed to be number one this year in meth lab production," Gwyn said.
He noted that two other states have acted to require that drugs used in meth production cannot be purchased without a prescription. Currently Tennessee has no such requirement.
"We know we have to limit the availability," he said, but stopped short of recommending a prescription requirement.
Gwyn, who said drugs could be involved in as much as 98 per cent of the criminal activity in the state, said he was particularly troubled by growing drug use in both urban and rural areas.
The agency official said his budget proposal would achieve the governor's cost cutting goals by drawing on a fund in which drug testing fees collected by the agency are deposited. He said those fees had been "overcollected" in the past creating a surplus.
Also appearing before Haslam and his top aides was Corrections Commissioner Derrick Schofield who presented his budget plan for the next fiscal year.
He said the goal of his agency was to reduce the recidivism rate, now at 46 per cent.
"We want to get it in the 30s," he said.
He said his budget cover nearly 7,000 employees but the ranks were thinned slightly when the agency outsourced mental health services for inmates. The budget provides for the opening of one new prison facility.