When is enough, enough?
by JIM RUTH, Bradley County Sheriff
Mar 03, 2013 | 1003 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

A few weeks ago I attended a training session for Tennessee sheriffs. The Commission of Safety told us that changing the laws that govern the sale of legal drugs that are used to make illegal methamphetamine will not be top priority on the governor’s legislative agenda this year.

Instead, they plan to tweak some drunk driving laws. There was a fuzzy half-promise to look at the meth problem next year.

Let’s see, time and energy will be spent on making it easier for convicted drunk drivers to get driving privileges back instead of dealing with this scourge of meth.

It is said that illegal meth use in Tennessee is costing taxpayers a $1 billion or more per year. Then there are the nearly 400 children who have been placed in foster care, plus countless others who’ve been irreparably harmed, displaced, neglected and abused.

Medical doctors, criminology professors, law enforcement professionals, social scientists and other experts have spoken volumes about the harmful effects meth is having all across the state of Tennessee. These people have presented facts in a straightforward, scientific manner. Newspapers around the state have printed editorials and articles while broadcast media has verbalized the ruinous results of not changing the laws that allow meth makers to buy the ingredients legally at the drug store.

The states that have passed laws to make pseudo-ephedrine prescription-only again are getting the upper hand on the meth problem. Yet, the people of Tennessee are losing the battle to the meth drug cartel. Tennessee is still No. 2 in the nation for meth lab busts and the meth problem. Our neighboring county, McMinn, is No. 6 in the state for meth labs and Bradley County is No. 7. Again, when is enough, enough? What are we waiting for? Are we waiting to be No. 1 in the nation?

The existing system to track pseudo-ephedrine purchases is a failure. It is not stopping the purchases for illegal use. The politicians, lobbyists, pharmaceutical companies and meth dealers blocking a new, effective law have made for some strange bedfellows.

I informed the readers of this column a few months back about this problem. I said the money-makers from this product would oppose me. Well, some did and will probably continue to do so. I will continue to oppose them as well.

Almost weekly there are reports that this meth problem is getting worse. Yet, the answer is very simple. The General Assembly should change the law back to prescription purchases only. This change in the law has broken the back of meth dealers in the states where the state lawmakers backed the lobbyists and profiteers. When will the folks in Nashville decide it is enough and say “no” to the Tennessee meth dealers?

How many more innocent children and law officers have to be exposed to the deadly fumes of meth labs? How many more houses, apartments and hotel rooms are going to have to be quarantined because of meth labs?

When is enough, enough? Some 2,082 meth labs were reported in Tennessee in 2010. There were 722 children taken into custody because of meth during 2010-11. One state report says there are over 3,000 experienced meth makers on probation or parole in Tennessee.

I, along with many others have studied on how to control the meth problem in Tennessee. The answer is to change the law back as it was before 1976: All pseudo-ephedrine products must be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Also, when the light is shined on the reason the law is not changed, it all shakes out to m-o-n-e-y and profits. It is apparent that the special interest lobbyists in Nashville have more clout than the state’s sheriffs, other experienced law officers in Tennessee or the voters.

Another problem is that federal funding for meth cleanup is about to end for Tennessee.

So, when is enough, enough?

Remember, you can read this and past columns online at www.bradleysheriff.com.

Thanks for reading.