New meth laws go into effect in Tennessee

New meth laws go into effect in Tennessee

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6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The new year brings new laws in Tennessee and another round in the fight against methamphetamines.

Meth makers now face stiffer penalties, as do the so-called "smurfers," those who gather meth materials.

Another new law requires all pharmacies to use a computer system for tracking purchases of certain cold medicines that are the raw ingredients for the drug.

The sales of pseudoephedrine-based drugs sold over the counter are being tracked at every pharmacy in the state. The tracking is done through a computer system, called NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange).

"The intent is to prevent the illegal trafficking of this drug in order to make a very deadly substance, and if any of this helps to shut down any meth lab then we are that far ahead," said Tara Moore, a pharmacist and director of patient care services at  Belew Drugs in Knoxville.

Moore says the NPLEx database has information on anyone who purchases the key recipe items for methamphetamine.

Since July, it has been illegal to purchase more than 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine per day or 9 grams in a 30-day period.

The new law means the databases will track the purchases in real time.

NPLEx must have a stop-sale mechanism in place for potential purchasers over the allowable purchase limit and anyone on the meth offender registry.

"It's all instant, and if we enter the name in and the have made a previous purchases and have gone over daily allowance or purchasing, or they have go over their allowance for a month, the computer will not let us proceed with the sale," Moore explained.

The new law also says sales can be declined if the pharmacist believes it's not for a legitimate medical need.

Moore says the Belew stores and most major pharmacies have used the system for more than six months, and it's already helping keep offenders away.  

"They get a rejection one or two times, word spreads," she said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will maintain a registry of meth offenders and send updates of that database to NPLEx at least every seven days.

The law also requires pharmacies to send the NPLEx data to a law enforcement database every 24 hours.

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