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Steve Ahillen
By Steve Ahillen February 11, 2012

Making good on anti-meth promise

At a campaign stop in Athens, Tenn., on Sept. 28, 2010, the governor promises to deal with meth – a drug problem that had reached epidemic proportions in East Tennessee. The area has been among the national leaders in the number of meth busts. The expense of dealing with meth had some counties worried about going bankrupt. Though the cost has come down since, the average expense for a single bust in 2010, including the arrests and cleanup, was well over $2,000.

Gov. Haslam did address the issue, signing into law on June 6, 2011, an anti-meth measure. It increases the penalty for making meth in the presence of children, tracks the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine – a key ingredient in making meth, makes the sales information available promptly to law enforcement, makes it easier to prosecute those who purchase pseudoephedrine and imposes minimum mandatory fines on those offenders. He also announced the state is making available more than $1 million in funding for meth lab cleanups.

The Governor's Office in a Jan. 4, 2012, reply to our questions about Haslam"s campaign promise, wrote:

"During the campaign, Gov. Haslam talked about working with local law enforcement to address public safety issues, and his commitment to that is apparent in the comprehensive anti-methamphetamine legislation that the administration worked with law enforcement and the pharmaceutical industry to bring to fruition ... He will also be announcing a public safety action plan in the near future.”

Then on Jan. 5, 2012, when he announced a "comprehensive public safety strategy”, the governor said the state is taking more steps in the battle against meth that include a statewide meth lab clean-up system, development of a new anti-meth communications campaign and more training for law enforcement.

The law didn't go as far as some had hoped. Prosecutors across the state had called for making pseudoephedrine prescription only.

"We wanted it to be prescription-only, and we're not going to give up that fight,” Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said at the time. "But this is a good start to addressing the issue.”

The governor also calls for the state Comptroller's Office to study the prescription-only option on pseudoephedrine and issue a report.

We give this a  Promise Kept.

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