An attorney general opinion released Friday said Tennessee cities and counties trying to curb meth abuse by requiring prescriptions for medication containing pseudopherine are violating state law, and state Sen. Mae Beavers agreed.
In his legal opinion, Attorney General Robert Cooper said “enactment by a Tennessee county or municipality of a local ordinance that prohibits the sale, delivery or distribution of over-the-counter products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine without a valid prescription from a health care professional licensed in Tennessee would violate the “Meth-Free Tennessee Act of 2005” as it was amended in 2011.”
Cooper said the section of law “demonstrates the General Assembly’s intent to occupy the entire field of regulation of immediate methamphetamine precursors such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, so as to permit no local enactments.”
Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, requested the report.
More than a dozen Tennessee towns and cities have passed ordinances requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy pseudophedrine-based cold medicines since June, following the lead of the tiny town of Huntland in Franklin County.
Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, who authored the state’s “real-time” psuedophedrine-tracking technology, said in a statement she has “long maintained that local prescription-only measures run counter to the spirit of that law. Attorney General Cooper’s opinion demonstrates that these local ordinances do indeed run afoul of the law.”
Beavers said, “there is no question that there remains much work to be done to address the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine.
“I look forward to working with state legislators from both parties to implement balanced solutions that target criminals, not law-abiding Tennesseans.”
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which has heavily lobbied against prescription-only approaches to Tennessee’s meth epidemic, lauded Cooper’s opinion.
“We have always maintained that a prescription mandate for pseudophedrine is a state issue. Local city and countywide mandates are not effective solutions to address the illegal purchase of pseudophdrine-containing medicines,” the group said in a statement.
The CHPA added manufacturers “look foward to working with the Tennessee legislature to find effective solutions to the illegal sales of PSE.”
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press contributed to this report.