TN Anti-Meth Laws Undercut by “Cottage Industry” of “Smurfers”


Tennessee took the lead among states for methamphetamine lab seizures last year, and state legislators responded by passing the most comprehensive set of anti-meth laws since 2005. The Tennessean says law enforcement officials did not get what they wanted: making meth's key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, a drug issued by a doctor's prescription only. The legislature opted for a system used in Kentucky, a stricter cap on how much pseudoephedrine-based, over-the-counter drugs a person can buy in a day.

Critics say the new law will do little to curb the meth manufacturer practice of “smurfing” — recruiting other people to buy small amounts of pseudoephedrine to contribute to a meth batch. “We basically have a whole cottage industry [ ] of people who do nothing but go around and buy ephedrine and pseudoephedrine,” said Tommy Farmer of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, which coordinates meth enforcement efforts. “They run under the radar by not exceeding those legal limits, those thresholds.” Some Tennesseans caught in the grip of methamphetamine addiction agree, saying the underground world of meth labs, dealers and users will find a way around the new software-based cap system used by Tennessee pharmacies, known as NPLEx.

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