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Comptroller Report on TN Meth Production Questions Effectiveness of Pseudoephedrine Tracking, Prescriptions

Press release from Office of the Comptroller; January 10, 2013:

The illicit production of methamphetamine remains a serious public health, safety and fiscal issue in Tennessee, yet two of the most popular methods aimed at curbing meth production have shown inconclusive results. These are among the key findings of an updated study of meth production released today by the Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability (OREA).

The study updates a report issued by OREA last year. (Click here for 2013 Comptroller Report.)

Meth is a highly addictive recreational drug that can be illegally produced from household ingredients and certain types of cold and allergy medicines – primarily pseudoephedrine. Federal and state laws limit the amount of these medications, referred to as “precursors,” that individuals can purchase.

One method for limiting meth production is electronic tracking of purchases of cold medicines commonly used to produce meth. Tennessee and 28 other states have adopted the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), a real-time electronic tracking system. However, the study shows that the number of meth lab incidents reported by law enforcement has not decreased substantially since Tennessee began using NPLEx in 2012.

In two states, Mississippi and Oregon, individuals must have a prescription to purchase precursors. The number of reported meth lab incidents declined in these two states following passage of a prescription-only law, but some other nearby states without such laws have followed similar trends.

OREA is an agency within the Comptroller’s Office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public.

To view the report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/

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Beavers Touts Cold Medicine Purchasing Database Following Comptroller’s Meth Report

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 10, 2013:

(NASHVILLE, TN), January 10, 2013 — Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) today responded to a report issued by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury on methamphetamine production in Tennessee. The study, which was carried out by the Offices of Research and Education Accountability, analyzed the effectiveness of Tennessee’s real-time, stop-sale technology—known as the National Precursor Log Exchange—at addressing domestic methamphetamine production in Tennessee and other states where the system is operational.

Senator Beavers was the original Senate sponsor of anti-meth legislation that implemented NPLEx in Tennessee in addition to a drug-offender registry and strict penalties for meth-related crime. The system, which allows retailers to block unlawful attempted purchases of certain cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), has been fully operational in Tennessee since January 2012. In a little over one year since implementation, the technology has led to tens of thousands of blocked sales and numerous convictions and arrests.

“I’m pleased with the progress made in NPLEx’s first year implemented in Tennessee. This system provides law enforcement with an invaluable intelligence-gathering tool, helping officers make more meth busts and arrests,” said Senator Beavers. “Reports that more meth labs are being found in our state provides proof that NPLEx is doing exactly what it is designed to do.”

As the comptroller’s report accurately notes, NPLEx is leading law enforcement officials to uncover a greater number of meth labs. Before the system was in place, police officers were blind to suspicious PSE purchasing activity. If they wanted to track purchases, officers would literally have to sift through handwritten logbooks and drive from store to store. Now, the purchasing database is completely electronic and updates in real time. Officers can receive alerts on their mobile phones and put suspects on a watch list that sends out alerts when a suspect attempts to make a purchase.

“As my colleagues in the Tennessee House and Senate debate anti-meth legislation during the 2013 session, I urge them to continue to let this new law work. I have no doubt that we will continue making progress against the scourge of meth production and abuse utilizing the NPLEx system,” Beavers concluded.