Franklin County, Tenn., is just a few readings away from rules making pseudoephedrine-based cold medicines available only by prescription.
Cowan, Decherd and Estill Springs are the remaining municipalities in the county set to pass new rules on pseudoephedrine-based cold medicines as law enforcement takes a new step in the battle against methamphetamine.
Pseudoephedrine is the primary ingredient in meth production.
"The only way it's going to be successful is if the entire region does this," Winchester police Chief Dennis Young said. The new, countywide rules will be a first among Tennessee counties.
Young said officials from Franklin County are meeting with neighboring counties, Grundy County being the next stop over the next few days.
Young said pharmacy statistics show meth makers have been heading for Tennessee in droves to get their ingredients. In the past year, about 780,000 people bought pseudoephedrine in Tennessee. Pharmacy sales records show tens of thousands of people come from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi to get the precursor chemical in Tennessee.
"Tennessee this year is reclaiming No. 1 in the nation in the production of meth," Young said. Missouri was the top-ranking state, but more than 70 cities in Southern Missouri implemented regulations similar to those being pursued in Franklin County.
"This dramatically reduced their meth labs," Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said. "Our Legislature is having a problem getting a law passed, so we're taking baby steps to do what we need to do here."
Current Tennessee law restricts the sale of pseudoephedrine-based cold medicines by placing them behind the counter. Buyers must present a valid ID and sign a log for products containing the precursor.
"We're not making it a controlled substance," Fuller said. "The state of Tennessee has already said that it can be sold with a prescription, and, if you sell it without a prescription, the statutes say that there are guidelines on how it can be sold."
Local rules fit those guidelines, he said.
"It's time to stop it," he said he said of the abuse. "We have it in our power to try to do something about it, and we're challenging every community to take a stand."
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.