‘TN Together’ Plan to Curb State Opioid Epidemic Takes Effect

Requirements aimed at curbing Tennessee’s opioid epidemic are among more than 150 new laws that kicked in July 1.

Many laws take effect on July 1 each year, when a new state budget year begins, and some of the highest profile ones this time around are part of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s “TN Together” opioid plan.

Tennessee will begin limiting initial opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply, with exceptions for major surgical procedures, cancer and hospice treatment, sickle cell disease and treatment in certain licensed facilities.

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With the three-day initial supply restriction, Haslam’s office says, “Tennessee will have one of the most strict and aggressive opioid policies in the nation.”

The Tennessee Medical Association, the state’s doctor lobbying group, has said it’s still concerned about unintended consequences for patients who may have more difficulty accessing effective pain management because of the law.

Among other components, the opioid laws will offer incentives to get 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 it causes a death.

The $37.5 billion state budget includes $16 million-plus in new opioid services money, $30.2 million more for school safety in response to nationwide school shootings and $3 million to help school districts equip new buses with seatbelts.

The budget doesn’t include $250,000 that would have gone to Memphis for the city’s bicentennial celebration next year. The Republican-led General Assembly stripped out the money because the city found a loophole in state law that allowed the removal of three Confederate statues from local parks.

Some other laws that took effect July 1 include:

  • Let people show their vehicle registration in electronic form when pulled over, including on cellphones
  • Remove licensing requirement and require certain training, examination and liability insurance to be a “certified animal massage therapist” or “registered animal massage therapist”
  • Require new driver’s licenses for people under 21 to be printed vertically to help identify them as underage

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