The Senate adjourned Thursday in a state of uncertainty over whether to ban over-the-counter sales of cough and cold medicine to curtail methamphetamine cooking in Tennessee.
A vote on alternative legislation by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, was delayed for a week after senators raised questions.
“This is a serious bill. I don’t think you need to question it,” Beavers said, obviously annoyed at one point during the debate.
Her bill, which is backed by the pharmaceutical industry, would establish a statewide electronic system to track illicit purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy products containing the meth ingredient pseudoephedrine. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation wants to allow sales of the medicine by prescription only. Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, was among senators favoring that.
“I would favor the nuclear option or using a sledgehammer to stop this terrible abuse,” McNally said.
Beavers said her bill “will dramatically enhance our current law by introducing proven technology which will target criminals while at the same time preserving over-the-counter access to much-needed cough, cold and allergy medication.”
“I know that meth is a huge problem in the state of Tennessee,” she added. “But I don’t think we need to go to the prescription-only route at this point. I think we need to try this. Prescription-only is going to incur doctor’s visits, costs to the consumer and cost to our TennCare program.”