An initiative by local governments in Franklin County, Mo., to regulate the sale of medicines containing pseudoephedrine is picking up steam in counties in other states, including Franklin County, Tenn.

Pseudoephedrine is the vital ingredient needed to make methamphetamine.

In 2009, Washington was the first city in Missouri to pass a local law requiring people to get a doctor’s prescription to buy such medications. Within months, other communities in Franklin County followed suit and the requirement later was adopted by local governments across the state.

Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit, spearheaded the movement after repeated attempts to get a statewide prescription law were blocked by state lawmakers.

Springfield Next

Now, almost 70 cities and counties in Missouri have passed such laws.

Grellner said the city of Springfield recently gave first-round approval to a prescription law and is slated to take a final vote July 1. If it’s approved, that would make Springfield the largest city in Missouri to pass a local ordinance.

Recently, local law enforcement officials in Tennessee launched a regional movement to adopt prescription laws after the Legislature in that state also balked at passing a statewide measure.

Grellner said he recently spoke to officials from 12 counties and 20 to 30 cities in the southwest and south central areas of Tennessee.

Dennis Young, the police chief of the city of Winchester in Franklin County, Tenn., has been pushing local communities to take up the cause as a way to curb illegal meth labs and the movement is taking hold.

“This is awesome,” Grellner told The Missourian.

Three communities in Franklin County, Tenn., have passed the law and “numerous others are on the horizon,” Grellner said.

Some of those border the Missouri bootheel, Grellner noted, which will effectively block the import of pseudoephedrine to that part of the state. Other border states, Illinois and Arkansas, already won’t sell pseudoephedrine to Missouri residents, he noted.

In an interview with a TV station, Chief Young was optimistic that the movement would spread across Franklin County, Tenn. and, he hopes, throughout the state.

“Hopefully, with God willing, the rest of the state will follow. I challenge every mayor, every city council member, every chief of police and every sheriff in every city in the state to do what our city leaders here did. And from the way my phone is ringing, it sounds like it’s happening,” Young told WSMV-TV.

Grellner said the local effort in Tennessee has lawmakers there re-examining the idea of passing a statewide bill.

“That’s always been my hope here,” he told The Missourian.

“It’s neat,” Grellner said of the Tennessee initiative. “I’m very excited that it’s being taken up by other states.”

The chief narcotics investigator in Franklin County said once again he’ll be pushing Missouri lawmakers to introduce a statewide bill in the 2014 session.

“We’ve been seeing drops in meth labs in Missouri thanks to this effort and the development of Zephrex D,” Grellner commented. Zephrex D is a formulation of pseudoephedrine that can’t be used to manufacture meth.