State Legislature dropped the ball
by Jim Ruth, Bradley County Sheriff
Oct 21, 2012 | 1713 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The State House of Representatives and the Senate have failed the people of Tennessee. They have done so by not curbing the use of methamphetamine. They have failed to enact laws that will effectively stop or even slow down meth production.

What most people don’t know is that prior to 1976 pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient to make meth, was a controlled substance which required a prescription from a doctor. Due to the availability of this product, now the meth problem in Tennessee has become epidemic.

The Meth Free Tennessee Act of 2005 which required pseudoephedrine to be sold behind the pharmacy counter only temporarily slowed the tide of meth production. Tennessee has experienced substantial increases in meth lab seizures since 2007. In 2010 alone Tennessee dealt with 2,082 meth lab seizures and disposals. It is reported that Tennessee’s annual cost due to all the problems with methamphetamine is over $1 billion per year.

In Bradley County meth lab busts have doubled over the past six months compared to the previous six months. Since Jan. 1, 2012, to date there have been almost 50 busts, and Tennessee is still second in the nation in meth lab busts with 1,344 through September of this year. We appear to be on track to surpass the total for 2010.

The problem is that this cheap drug is relatively easy to make and the ingredients are still easy to get. The database system that is in place simply is not slowing the tide of meth production. All it is doing is causing the meth cooks to get more “smurfs” (people who will go buy pseudoephedrine for them) to travel around purchasing the ingredients. Then there are always places these smurfs learn they can go where they are able to obtain pseudoephedrine much easier.

Everyone knows meth is highly addictive. Since the bill to make ephedrine products a controlled substance was not pushed or even sent through the right committee, it had no realistic chance of passing. It is for certain that many more people have become addicted to meth in the meantime.

So, some legislators have bobbed and weaved and have not taken a stand against this damnable drug that is ruining many of our children. Why would they not take a stand against this insidious cancer that leads to all sorts of crimes like burglaries, child abuse or neglect, broken marriages, even murder? It also leads to loss of jobs and early death from loss of health. Someone said meth is so addictive that only God can save an addict from his or her own ruin. For most it becomes a lifelong addiction, because only about 8 percent of those addicted ever overcome it.

Much publicity has been given to the dangers of meth use over the last few years, yet in some places, like Tennessee, the problem continues to grow. Also, every time an officer investigates a meth lab or makes a meth lab bust they do so at great risk to their own health.

Tennessee’s lawmakers must know that we are losing the war against meth production. The problem is, the buck has been passed. The big-money lobbyists have taken a very strong position against any laws that might in some way restrict anyone from purchasing the products that go into making meth.

It has become the same old story that repeats itself throughout history; David vs. Goliath. It is law-enforcement professionals against big money. In Nashville and Washington big money wins.

One editor of a nearby city newspaper made a statement like, “I would rather it be easier for a few criminals to make meth and allow Tennesseans to purchase cold medicine with privacy and dignity rather than to inconvenience so many innocent people and subject them to a database that allows government to see what they buy and where, under the guise of fighting meth.” Well, 50 meth makers busted in nine months in one county is not a few criminals, especially when you consider they are supplying dozens or perhaps hundreds of others with meth.

These criminals have an insatiable appetite for more money, more users, and more victims. This means that your neighborhood, your children, your loved ones are targets for these greedy, sleazy profiteers.

There are certain areas in our community where criminal conduct occurs much more frequently than in other neighborhoods. This does not mean, however, that the other communities are not affected. We are all victims, whether or not we are directly involved in a specific crime.

Any way the problem is approached, it is not going to be popular, whether by database creation or making it a controlled substance. Most law-enforcement professionals around the state realize making these over-the-counter ingredients a controlled substance is the only way meth production can be controlled. Pseudoephedrine needs to be a controlled substance, as it was before 1976. We, certainly, cannot continue to take a casual view about the meth problem.

Many of us have allergies, colds and sinus infections, etc., and need the legal products sold at the drugstore. Yet, we don’t need to continue to let our legal supplier be the main supplier to the criminal meth producer. There are, certainly, more products out there that help with these health issues.

Please get involved and call your legislators and tell them how you really feel about lawmakers who refuse to take a hard, active stance against this very big problem. You may hear some double talk and lip service, so tell them we are in desperate need of some fast and hard action.

Prediction: Watch for the big money to come after me to shut me down. Remember though, David overcame Goliath. He did so through faith and action.

Thanks for reading.