Some Middle Tennessee counties are fighting the state to keep an anti-meth law they say is working. The problem is the law, which makes some cough medicine prescription-only, violates Tennessee code.
Now one state lawmaker is working to make the law constitutional through a new bill.
Meth had become such a burden in Franklin County, local leaders did something about it.
"There's a $50 fine if a pharmacist sells a bottle of cold medicine with pseudoephedrine in it without a prescription," said State Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester.
Pseudoephedrine is found in many common cold medicines like Sudafed, but it is also a necessary ingredient in making meth.
Seven months after making the cough medicine prescription-only in Franklin County, Alexander said meth-related arrests there fell by nearly 50 percent. Plus, he said, there was a 70 percent drop in meth lab busts and a total elimination of so-called "smurfing," in which criminals pay strangers to buy them the cold medicine.
"There have been no objections to this by the thousands of people who buy it every month," Alexander said.
But in December came a huge road block when the Tennessee attorney general's office found the local meth ordinance, which had since been adopted by nine counties, violated the state constitution because it superceded state law.
Still, Alexander says all counties that adopted the local law are still enforcing it, and he's supported House Bill 1570, which would allow cities and counties to put stronger restrictions on meth precursors than state law allows.
Alexander believes if the bill turns to law that the attorney general will change his opinion, opening the door to all Tennessee counties that want to stop the sale of pseudoephedrine over the counter.
"We have not talked to him, but this law would address his objection specifically," Alexander said.
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