Would Prescriptions Slow Down Meth in Tennessee? Study Finds Tossup

Currently, Tennessee has a tracking system for medicine including the ingredient pseudoephedrine, though researchers say the system has been ineffective at reducing meth production. Credit: theloushe via Flickr

Currently, Tennessee has a tracking system for medicine including the ingredient pseudoephedrine, though researchers say the system has been ineffective at reducing meth production. Credit: theloushe via Flickr

Whether or not to mandate prescriptions for cold medicine used to make methamphetamine is a debate being revived in the Tennessee legislature, which reconvenes this week. The latest study suggests lawmakers may have to go with their gut.

On Friday, the Tennessee Comptroller updated its research about the most effective ways to curb meth production. It found that the current tracking system isn’t working very well. And while a growing number of policy makers are convinced that prescriptions for the precursor ingredients are the only way, the study says there’s no way to know for sure.

Oregon and Mississippi have seen meth figures decrease after requiring prescriptions for medicines like Sudafed. But policy researcher Susan Mattson says nearby states without the same restrictions have seen a decline too.

“It’s not absolutely clear cut that if we change to prescriptions that it’s going to go away. You know, I can argue both sides of the point. So it does come down to a judgment factor.”

Mattson says most of the policy research on meth is suspect anyway. Lab busts are used as the key figure for comparison. Mattson points out that the number fluctuates for a variety of reasons, like whether law enforcement has the time or money to focus on meth.

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