An East Tennessee sheriff says his department and the community have made meth harder to make by teaming up with local pharmacies.
When McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy took office in 2010, the area was #1 for meth lab busts in Tennessee, recording 155 that year.
They would have cost the county nearly half a million dollars to clean up, says Guy, but federal funding subsidized the effort.
But when that funding began to dry up, Guy says he realized they had to come up with a solution or face a crisis.
In February 2010 the department approached all of the local pharmacies and asked them to commit to selling pseudoephedrine by prescription only, for 100 days.
"I only had one that was a little skeptical at the time," said Guy but ultimately they all got on board.
He says the impact was almost immediate and the number of meth busts deputies responded to dropped.
For example, during the first four months of 2010 deputies found 38 meth labs. The 100 days began in February 2011.
During the first four months of 2011 that number dropped to 18. January through March 31 pharmacies were still participating in the '100 days' program.
Numbers continued to drop for the same time period in 2012. They've seen a slight uptick for the first four months of 2013, but Guy says it's still less than half of the all time high in 2010.
Even though the program is officially over, Guy says the impact is lasting.
"The criminal intelligence we get from inmates in jail- they tell us that
word on the street is that you don't make meth in McMinn County," said Guy.
The sheriff shared his experience before a subcommittee during this year's legislative session. But he says the information didn't get the reception he was hoping for.
"Our lawmakers tend to want to explore the fact that we already have a problem. Just do another study," said Guy.
He says he would like to see lawmakers pass a regulation that would allow counties to decide whether to restrict pseudoephedrine to prescription-only.