In 2004 and 2005, the General Assembly passed several bills relating to the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. Each of these new laws included new duties for Tennessee’s sheriffs.
Public Chapter 855 of the Acts of 2004 gives the sheriff the authority to quarantine any property or any structure or room in any structure on any property located in the county where the manufacture of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers is occurring or has occurred. If the sheriff quarantines such property, the sheriff becomes responsible for posting signs indicating that the property has been quarantined and, to the extent they can be reasonably identified, for notifying all parties having any right, title or interest in the quarantined property, including any lienholders. T.C.A. § 68-212-503(b). Once the property has been quarantined it must remain quarantined until a certified industrial hygienist or other qualified person or entity certifies to the sheriff that the property is safe for human use. T.C.A. § 68-212-505.
Public Chapter 18 of the Acts of 2005 enacted the Meth-Free Tennessee Act of 2005. The act amends T.C.A. § 68-212-503 to clarify that the purpose of the provision allowing for the quarantine of properties where methamphetamine manufacturing has occurred is to prevent people from being exposed to the hazards associated with methamphetamine and the chemicals associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine. The act also amends Title 68, Chapter 212, Part 5, by adding a new section that requires the sheriff, within seven days of issuing an order of quarantine, to transmit to the commissioner of environment and conservation the following minimal information regarding the site: date of the quarantine order, county, address, name of the owner of the site, and a brief description of the site (single family home, apartment, motel, wooded area, etc.). The sheriff must also notify the commissioner once the quarantine has been lifted.
Public Chapter 347 of the Acts of 2005 requires the sheriff, after quarantining real property or any structure or room in any structure on any real property due to the manufacture of meth, to file for recording a Notice of Methamphetamine Lab Quarantine in the office of county register in the county in which the real property or any portion thereof lies.