(WBIR) The state legislature reconvened Tuesday, and one hot topic lawmakers will discuss this year is the fight against meth.
Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville and several house representatives announced Monday a bill they plan to sponsor, hoping to curb meth use. The bill would require a prescription for medicines with pseudeophedrine, which is the key ingredient in meth.
Several cities and counties have passed local ordinances requiring prescriptions, but under this bill, it would be a requirement statewide.
If the bill passes, pseudoephedrine would require voice, e-script or faxed prescriptions. Pseudoephedrine sales would also have to be reported to the state's controlled substance monitoring database.
Along with local lawmakers, doctors, pharmacists and police support the proposal even though it may be inconvenient for consumers. But Sen. Mae Beavers said putting this extra burden on consumers isn't the answer.
"While I certainly agree with the Sen. Overbey and others that something must be done to further address
Tennessee's meth problem, a prescription requirement would place a significant burden on law-abiding Tennessee families and fail to address the core causes of problem," wrote Beavers in a statement. "Forcing honest citizens to pay to see a doctor every time they have congestion is an unreasonable policy that punishes responsible consumers for the crimes of a criminal minority. It does nothing to deal with the near-constant flow of meth from across the Mexican border, or the treatment of those who suffer from serious drug addiction. It is the same policy that was rejected during last year's legislative session after it was determined that it was both imbalanced and ineffective."
Sen. Beavers was the original Senate sponsor of anti-meth legislation that implemented a real-time tracking system within the state, a meth-offender registry, and strict penalties for meth-related crimes.
In a release, Sen. Beavers argued that the state needs to strengthen its current policies.
"We should not be concerned with passing new laws until we fully apply those already on the books, such as the state's meth offender registry," wrote Sen. Beavers. "Policies that unfairly penalize law-abiding citizens for crimes they did not commit represent the worst kind of government overreach. We need to pursue laws that target criminals if we want to see real progress in this fight."
But, Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp disagrees, saying more laws, despite their inconvenience, are necessary to fight the meth problem.
"Prior to 911 we could go and board on an airplane. We didn't have to go through the security checkpoint. I will tell you I don't particularly like to have to take my belt and my shoes off, but I think America is safer today because of legislation and things that went into place after 911. I think this is just another good opportunity for us to have a good law that would aid us and assist us with this rural meth," said Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp.
Last week, a report was issued saying it was "inconclusive" whether requiring a prescription has reduced meth cases in localities that have passed similar measures.