State’s war on meth becomes more complicated

There is no entertainment value in it, but the state of Tennessee’s ability to get meth under control is breaking bad.

In television’s acclaimed drama series of that name, it’s the ex-schoolteacher antihero who has gone to the dark side because of his health and personal crises; here in the real world, it’s the system for catching meth makers that has gone awry.

If you’re not worried yet, you should be.

The state is supposedly dependent on its offender registry to stop addicts and drug dealers at the point of purchase for over-the-counter cold medicines, which are the most common building block for making methamphetamine. But the database has more gaps than a meth addict’s jawbone.

This frustrating news comes after the Tennessee Meth Offender Registry was ushered in just two years ago as part of what was heralded as a major initiative to stem the meth problem.

Instead, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation now concedes our state soon will be No. 1 in the nation for meth-lab seizures — good, in that the labs are being found and destroyed, but also a benchmark of meth dealers’ success, especially because law enforcement supposedly had made meth a priority years ago.

Things haven’t gone as advertised.

Unless local court officers around Tennessee are committed to the job, the registry cannot be comprehensive. …

Court officers complain the arrest information they’re given seldom narrows it down for them to determine meth was involved. And some people on the registry still manage to buy pseudoephedrine by scamming the pharmacist with fraudulent IDs or other methods.

Most infuriating is that there is no unanimity of resolve on fighting meth. Pharmacists complain the registry is flawed, court officers complain about law enforcement, and the pharmaceutical industry is more worried about the effect on sales if the state were to make cold medicines prescription-only …

Tennessee desperately needs to get a handle on this. Meth is only going to start showing up in more towns and more families unless we do.

 

-The Tennessean,Nashville

 

Posted on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm