Tennessee Is #1 in the Nation for Meth | The Fix
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Tennessee Is #1 in the Nation for Meth

State authorities battle lawmakers for stricter regulation of meth's main ingredient.


Sudafed: cures colds, makes meth. Photo via

By Bryan Le


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Despite law enforcement efforts to crack down, Tennessee is reportedly number one in the nation for meth. “We’re in trouble in Tennessee, absolutely,” says Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long, member of the state's Public Safety Coalition. “The figures now show that, according to the first three months of this year, Tennessee is No. 1 in the nation.” Lawmakers are being blamed for the rise in the drug's usage, since they have refused to restrict the purchasing of pseudoephedrine—an over-the-counter drug (marketed as Sudafed), and meth's main ingredient. There are currently computer systems set to monitor pseudoephedrine products. But meth manufacturers beat the systems by employing a crowdsourcing technique known as "smurfing," in which a group of people are sent to purchase "pseudo" at multiple pharmacies. A recent bill would have made pseudo a prescription-only drug, but lawmakers shot it down for fear of "inconveniencing" regular customers. With funding for meth lab cleanup soon to dry up, Long says law enforcement will continue to lobby for the measure, since it has shown success at reducing meth use in other states. “What other crime in Tennessee would cost the state of Tennessee and the citizens $1.6 billion and not be addressed?” he says. “We will be back in January again.”

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