Lawmakers and law enforcement try to find new ways to stop meth

Lawmakers and law enforcement meet to find with new ways to stop meth

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Ronnie Baggett recently stopped selling pseudoephedrine because he was concerned about the people it was bringing into his business. Ronnie Baggett recently stopped selling pseudoephedrine because he was concerned about the people it was bringing into his business.
"We are working on a piece of legislation that would make pseudoephedrine available by doctor's prescription or pharmacist prescription," Sen. Mike Bell said. "We are working on a piece of legislation that would make pseudoephedrine available by doctor's prescription or pharmacist prescription," Sen. Mike Bell said.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - The state of Tennessee is the number one state in the country for meth and has the highest number of labs.

And officials say meth abuse has a negative impact on our economy, public health and safety.

Now, lawmakers and law enforcement from across East Tennessee are coming together to find a new and improved way to combat the problem.

Several district attorneys and state law makers were at a meeting to discuss alternative approaches to combating the meth abuse issue on Tuesday.

Dozens of law enforcement officials were there to weigh in on the problem along with pharmacists.

Ronnie Baggett has been a pharmacist since the 80's. He recently stopped selling pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter drug in the meth-making process, because he was concerned about the people it was bringing into his business.

"We just didn't want to sell it, because when we saw one customer come in and ask for it, then we saw four or five more come in right with them," said Baggett.

He was one of dozens of people who attended the meeting in Kingston to find a way to fight meth abuse.

District Attorney Russell Johnson said Tennessee has the highest number of meth lab incidents in the country, with more than 2,300 in 2011. Johnson said meth manufacturing costs the community.

"The clean-up costs are anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 per meth lab," said Johnson.

According to officials, Tennessee has almost 1,400 felony meth offenders incarcerated. In two years, more than 700 children were place in DCS custody for meth-related issues.

To cut down on the manufacturing of methamphetamine, Tennessee lawmakers are considering legislation to make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.

"We are working on a piece of legislation that would make pseudoephedrine available by doctor's prescription or pharmacist prescription," Sen. Mike Bell said.

Baggett supports the effort if there's a quick-access database with customer information.

"If we do get the prescriptive rights to do it, the tools still need to be there so we can make the right decision. When was the last time they had it? How many did they get?" said Baggett.

There's also an alternative to Sudafed on the market called Nexafed. According to Johnson, Nexafed doesn't break down into a form that meth cooks can use.

Baggett said if it reduces meth abuse and helps patients, he'll support the product.

"If they take it and it works, I think it's a great alternative," said Baggett.

Sen. Bell says allowing only a doctor's prescription punishes law abiding citizens by forcing them to take time to go to the doctor and pay the co-pay to get cold and allergy medicine.

Many of the pharmacists, law enforcement and lawmakers attending the meeting believe the meeting was a good start to finding new ways to slow meth production in Tennessee.

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