In Praise of NPLEx (and the compromise anti-meth bill)

Release from Senate Republican Caucus (with one below from Roy Herron):
The Tennessee Senate yesterday passed SB 1265, which calls for the implementation of a statewide, real-time electronic tracking system, called NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange), to monitor and block illegal purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), an ingredient used in methamphetamine production. The bill also calls for felony charges for manufacturing meth in front of children and increases penalties for meth-related offenses. The legislation is a compromise brokered by Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and members of the legislature.

“I commend Safety Commissioner Gibbons and the Tennessee Senate for supporting a compromise that will prevent methamphetamine production in Tennessee while maintaining consumer access to important cold and allergy medications,” said state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill’s sponsor. “E-tracking is the only solution that will stop illegal sales of pseudoephedrine products by providing a real-time, preventive system in every Tennessee pharmacy.”
There is currently no mechanism in place in Tennessee to block illegal PSE sales in real time, as many pharmacies rely on handwritten paper logbooks to track purchases. As a result, criminals have learned to circumvent the current system. SB 1265 and its companion bill in the House (HB 1051) will provide a secure, interconnected electronic logbook that advises pharmacists when to refuse a sale based on an individual’s purchase record elsewhere in the state and beyond its borders. In addition, the state’s comptroller will conduct a thorough study of Tennessee’s meth production, which will be released by January 1, 2013.
“Most importantly, electronic tracking preserves access to the trusted medicines that many Tennesseans rely on and trust for cold and allergy relief,” continued Sen. Beavers.
E-tracking, which has been adopted by 13 states nationwide, will give local law enforcement officials a powerful investigative tool to track meth production across state lines. E-tracking allows law enforcement to find previously undiscovered meth labs and helps them identify meth cooks without costing taxpayers one penny.
The provision stiffening penalties against making meth in the presence of a child would take place on July 1, 2011. The bill would make the crime aggravated child endangerment which is punishable as a Class A felony if the child is eight years old or younger and a Class B felony if the child is over the age of eight.
SB 1265/HB 1051 is supported by the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The NPLEx system would be fully integrated into Tennessee pharmacy systems by January 1, 2012.
And this from Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden noting that he was a cosponsor:
DRESDEN – A bill cosponsored by State Senator Roy Herron to crack down on illegal purchases of the main ingredient in meth passed the state Senate 31-0 on Thursday.
“Meth is destroying lives, families and futures, but this bill gives new crimefighting tools to our law enforcement fighting this awful scourge,” Herron said.
Senate Bill 1265 would create a reporting system for pharmacies across the state to track purchases of pseudoephedrine, the common active ingredient in cold and allergy medicines that also serves as the primary ingredient in meth. The system will come at no expense to the state or pharmacies.
For those found in violation of the state’s current limits on pseudoephedrine purchases, the bill would place the offenders on the state’s methamphetamine registry and would ban them from such purchases for seven years. The legislation would also create penalties and bans against “smurfs” – those buying pseudoephedrine in order to sell it for meth manufacture.
“This legislation will strike against every link in the meth distribution chain,” Herron said. “Anyone who is guilty of endangering our communities through the making and selling of meth should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
The House version of the bill awaits a vote in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

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