List of Meth Convictions Lags Behind Goals

Sep 23, 2013


  A 2011 state law requires the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to compile and maintain a list of people who have been convicted of methamphetamine use. But a report in the Nashville Tennessean found that list is out of date, potentially reducing its effectiveness.

The list is intended as a reference for pharmacists at the state's roughly 1,200 pharmacies. A conviction that lands on the list shows up, and pharmacists can refuse to sell the customer cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of meth.

The Tennessean found that scores of meth users have not been added to the list. More than 4,500 names are already on that list, with more than 100 new names added each month, but it's still not enough to keep up with meth convictions across the state.

TBI Special Agent Tommy Farmer told the paper that the list does not include everyone it should. He laid the responsibility at the feet of county court officials, who he said have not been turning data in a timely manner. So far this year, 30 of Tennessee's 95 counties haven't reported a single meth conviction to the TBI.

Complicating the situation is the fact that some meth convictions fall under broader state drug laws, and therefore are more difficult to classify. In some counties, court records don't show which drug an offender was using when they were convicted.

Even if the list were completely up-to-date, Farmer said no list stops meth makers from obtaining the materials they need to manufacture the drug. The only solution, he suggested, was making pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug. Two states, Oregon and Mississippi, have taken that step to reduce meth production.