Tennessee roll-out of new laws also targets opioid epidemic


NASHVILLE: Tennessee will implement 150 new laws effective today (July 1) including requirements targeting the state’s opioid epidemic,

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s “TN Together” opioid plan is now one of the toughest laws in the country.

Tennessee will now limit initial opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply, excluding scripts for major surgical procedures, cancer and hospice treatment, and other specific exclusions.

Opium is a narcotic derived from a type of poppy; it has been used for thousands of years. From opium comes drugs including morphine, heroin, and prescription painkillers inluding Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin. Opium along subsequent forms of the substance are  known as opiates. There are also synthetic compounds that act just like opiates, chiefly methadone and fentanyl.

Opioid receptors regulate pain and the reward system in the human body. That makes opioids powerful painkillers, but also debilitatingly addictive.

Lobbyists for the Tennessee Medical Association voiced concern about unintended consequences for patients including difficulty accessing effective pain management. The new law  also offers incentives to help offenders to complete substance use treatment programs in prison and make it a second-degree murder charge to deal fentanyl and similar dangerous substances when death is a direct result.


Also within the $37.5 billion state budget is $30.2 million more for school safety, a response to nationwide school shootings, and $3 million to assist school districts in equipping new buses with seatbelts.

Among the other laws going into effect today: 

  • Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must notify local law enforcement within 24 hours when someone identified as having a mental disorder in the federal background check system has tried to buy a gun
  • Allows people show their vehicle registration in electronic form when pulled over, including on cellphones
  • Require regular checks to identify sexual predators for those working with children
  • Protect residential information of county corrections officers from public disclosure
  • Make it a Class A misdemeanor to impersonate a veteran or fraudulently representing a veteran’s service to get money, property, services or other benefits
  • Make judges issue a “no contact order” if a court finds probable cause that an alleged perpetrator caused serious bodily injury or used or displayed a weapon to a domestic violence victim; makes “no contact order” a mandatory condition of the perpetrator’s bond, in addition to restraining orders
  • Set out conditions for when juveniles can be placed in state custody or tried as adults, among other changes.
  • Require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to notify local law enforcement within 24 hours when someone identified as having a mental disorder in the federal background check system attempts to buy a gun
  • Require new driver’s licenses for people under 21 to be printed vertically to help identify them as underage

About Author

Christine Anne Piesyk has been a journalist for more than 50 years. Her credits include positions as Editor in Chief, Managing Editor, Staff Writer specializing in education, leisure living, food and arts and entertainment. She was co-producer, writer and on air persona for the Entertainment Review for 25 years. Now "retired," she finds herself working on online websites and as a book editor. In her other life, she is a costume designer in her daughter's company, Gemini Dream Designs.

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