Today, Governor Bill Haslam announced his support for legislation that is intended to make it harder to create methamphetamine.
The proposal calls for reducing the amount of pseudoephedrine a customer can purchase without a prescription. The chemical is found in many over-the-counter cold medications. But it's also a chief ingredient of homemade meth.
Tennessee law enforcement officials spend an estimated $2 million a year on meth lab clean-up, and in 2013, 1,685 meth labs were seized in the state, according to a release from the governor's office. In 2012, the most recent year for which comparative data are available, Tennessee came in second only to Missouri for the most meth lab seizures in the nation.
The current proposal would limit purchases of pseudoephedrine that exceed 4.8 grams in a 30-day period, except in cases where prescribed by a doctor or other licensed medical professional.
"This proposal would effectively give Tennessee the lowest state limit [on pseudoephedrine] in the United States," a state press statement read.
Those restrictions attracted the attention, and opposition, of a trade association that represents the companies that make over-the-counter medications.
“The legislation proposed today would burden law-abiding Tennesseans — particularly those who suffer from frequent allergy symptoms —with severe restrictions on the amount of certain cold and allergy medicines they can obtain before consulting a doctor,” Consumer Healthcare Products Association CEO Scott Melville said in a statement.
The ultimate success of anti-meth legislation is an open question. In 2005, state lawmakers approved the Meth-Free Tennessee Act, which set limits on pseudoephedrine purchases and created a system to track buyers. Starting in 2012, an electronic database made it easier to link pharmacies and track purchases.
The Meth-Free Tennessee Act had nearly identical goals to the legislation unveiled on Thursday -- to reduce meth production by making it tougher for potential makers to load up on the ingredients. But a study from the Tennessee comptroller's office found the law had little effect on the number of meth lab busts across the state.