Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today signed into law a multi-faceted bill to help combat the increasing problem of methamphetamine manufacturing and use in Tennessee. Law enforcement officials seized 2,082 meth labs in Tennessee in 2010, a record number.
Law enforcement officials, legislators, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, local officials and other key stakeholders from across the state joined Haslam on the steps of the Greene County Courthouse as he signed the bill into law.
"This bill helps us to confront Tennessee's meth problem head on and is a comprehensive approach to addressing a serious problem in our state," Haslam said. "I want to thank Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons for his leadership on this issue along with the sponsors of the legislation and all of the parties that came to the table and worked to make this legislation meaningful."
The sponsors of the bill include Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), Sen. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville).
Many of the key provisions of the law take effect July 1, 2011. The legislation aims to tackle Tennessee's meth problem in a variety of ways:
* It increases the penalty for making meth in the presence of children;
* tracks the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, which is a key ingredient in making meth;
* makes that sales information available promptly to law enforcement;
* makes it easier to prosecute those who purchase pseudoephedrine products at different times; and places for the purpose of exceeding the allowable amount, or through use of false identification;
* and imposes minimum mandatory fines on those offenders.
During the event, Haslam also announced the availability of more than $1 million to assist in meth lab cleanup:
* $750,000 in state appropriations to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI);
* and $280,000 in federal Byrne JAG grant funds from the state of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP) available to TBI.
Working with the TBI, the Tennessee Meth Task Force will purchase special storage containers and additional supplies for the disposal of meth waste. The containers will be placed at secure locations across the state.
The OCJP has also committed a $200,000 grant to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to fund a targeted communication campaign to educate and warn citizens of the consequences of violating the new law, specifically making meth in front of children and purchasing pseudoephedrine for non-medical or illegal purposes.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association will make a $25,000 donation to the Tennessee District Attorneys Association for the communication campaign.
The communication campaign will be a collaborative effort that includes the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; Tennessee Meth Task Force; Tennessee Department of Children's Services; Tennessee District Attorneys General Association; Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police; Tennessee Sheriffs' Association; Consumer Healthcare Products Association; Tennessee Pharmacists Association; and Tennessee Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.