(WBIR) In an effort to help gain ground in the fight against meth, state House lawmakers have passed a bill 80 - 17 on Wednesday that would put new limits on how much pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient used to make meth, people can buy without a prescription.
The legislation would lower the maximum amount of pseudoephedrine people in Tennessee can buy without a prescription to 48 tablets a month, or 240 tablets a year. Those limits are not as strict as the limits proposed by Governor Haslam, but would slash the current cap of 75 tablets a month.
"I think it's appropriate. Some people might need it for an extended period and if they do it's probably best that they see their doctor," said Bailey Univers, a pharmacist at Volunteer Pharmacy.
"I think the limits are still sufficient for patients who suffer from allergies. They're still able to get a few weeks of medicine," said Tiffany Haney, another pharmacist at Volunteer Pharmacy.
Members of the East Tennessee anti-meth group 'Stand in the Gap Coalition' were at the State Capitol for the vote, and although they are pleased with the outcome, the group believes more needs to be done to fully fight the meth problem to protect the innocent especially.
Medical professionals say babies and children being burned in meth accidents is a problem in the state.
"Anderson County is the highest county in the state for meth incidents and we have burned babies. Our pediatricians there say that they have to send these burned babies either to Vanderbilt or to Memphis. We had over 500 last year. We had so many burned babies in Tennessee last year we actually had to send about one-third of them to Georgia because they were burned in meth accidents," said Dr. David Stanley with the Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.
"We are pleased with a vote that supports any kind of a limit on pseudoephedrine products, however what we know is from facts in the State of Mississippi and the State of Oregon that simply making limits will not disable meth labs in Tennessee. And so what we propose is positive control of pseudoephedrine in Tennessee through competent medical authority, which include your local pharmacist. We also support the limit as the governor proposes. We think limits are good, but limits must go with positive control. And then finally we support over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products to remain available that cannot be converted to meth. They are already out there on the market," said Stand in the Gap Coordinator Dan Spurlock.
The State Senate must now approve the bill before it heads to Governor Haslam.