Tennessee second in the country in meth lab busts
Tennessee law enforcement has been targeting methamphetamine like never before. In 2013 police investigated 1,504 meth labs, the second most in the country. The investigation and crackdown on meth production looks to continue to be a high priority in the coming year. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation chief Mark Gwyn recently notified the governor at a budget meeting that the state may soon become the nation’s leading meth producer and may also soon have the most meth busts of any state.
The Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force began a concentrated effort to curb meth production in the state early in 2013. While police may not reach the estimated 2,000 meth busts anticipated at the beginning of the year, there is no denying that there has been significant focus on reducing the number of labs in the state.
In addition to the police response, several cities in Tennessee have made cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. This likely violates state law, Attorney General Bob Cooper recently wrote in a legal opinion. State law provides that the regulation of products containing source ingredients for methamphetamine is the job of the state general assembly, he noted. However, the cities have no plans to repeal these laws and many maintain that they are valid. The attorney general’s opinion does not automatically invalidate these measures. The cities modeled these laws based on similar mandates in Missouri cities, which then saw a decrease in the production of the drug.
The General Assembly passed a law in 2011 requiring that pharmacists keep a meth offender registry. Pharmacists can refuse to sell cough medicine with pseudoephedrine to anyone with a meth conviction within the last seven years and should have a list readily available to consult. However, not all people with meth convictions are currently on the registry.
Also at the state level, when the General Assembly reconvenes in January it will have legislation to consider that would hold parents accountable for having meth in the presence of children. Even if the child does not show any apparent injury from exposure, the parents could be charged with child abuse or neglect if meth is around a child.
Meth charges in Tennessee
In Tennessee, the penalties associated with methamphetamine possession or distribution charges can be serious. Sentencing depends on a variety of factors, including amount, whether there was intent to sell and previous convictions. However, even a first-time meth possession conviction can carry devastating consequences. As a result, those facing meth charges of any type should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss their legal options and protect their rights in the legal system.