Buckhannon takes aim at synthetic drug sales

Two women urged Buckhannon City Council Thursday to get rid of synthetic drugs, saying they supported an ordinance that would ban the sale of such items within corporate limits.

Amy Satterfield and Christine Bennett agreed the synthetic drugs commonly known as bath salts, potpourri and incense should be taken off the streets of Buckhannon. They said they decided to speak in support of the proposal after hearing the response from some community members who fought the ban against selling the items.

“We will not be silent anymore,” Bennett said.

“I beg the council to stand up,” Summerfield said. “We don’t want it in our town. It is not safe. It is killing kids.”

Robert Thompson, a citizen who spoke at a previous meeting against the proposed ordinance to control the sale of synthetic drugs, presented his findings which he said showed the benefits of the synthetic substances. He argued that these substances contain compounds that are beneficial to the health of the user, preventing brain cancer and other ailments.

The medicinal use is not the issue, said Summerfield. Those who use these synthetic drugs, including children, are using them for the purpose of getting high. She said that in 10 minutes of Internet research, she produced a mind-boggling amount of material that reveals instances in which people who have used the substances died. She said a 13-year-old boy in Pittsburgh had to have a double lung transplant from smoking “legal” marijuana.

Bennett claimed that 50 percent of juveniles in the local community are on probation because of the abuse of these legal drugs. She said she has seen students filter off the school buses, only to have to sign in with a probation officer at the start of school.

“We’re all keeping this secret under the rug,” she said. “Buckhannon was the center of the largest bath salts raid in the nation – in the entire United States. We made national news.”

Bennett said in the interest of not turning the children in, thus causing them to have a record, students are placed on a trial probation period under the premise that “we’ll get them fixed.” She said she would not be silent anymore. She said that cities around Buckhannon were waking up and deciding to take control.

“We are in the process,” Buckhannon Mayor Kenny Davidson said.

City Attorney David McCauley read a sample ordinance adopted from Clarksburg. He said a similar ordinance was adopted Wednesday in Summersville, and that many other sister cities have already taken the lead in establishing control. Bridgeport is also considering the issue.

“I beg the council to not be behind our sister cities anymore,” Summerfield said. “We have pulled our children out of the river. We have pulled our children out of crashed vehicles.”

Bennett had much more to say on the issue of juveniles in the Buckhannon community using synthetic drugs.

“Our percentage of juveniles on probation in this town is mind-numbing. There are juveniles who are being taken out of the custody of their appropriate parents, who are doing nothing wrong, because of synthetic marijuana and bath salts,” Bennett said. “We sit here as a community and allow a store to open up on Main Street (Mom and Pop’s Hippy Shop) 150 feet away from our youth center. We as a community declare that that’s OK. I am not here to say that an adult can’t do whatever they want with a legal substance, but I’m here to say that my children and this community’s children are worth me not pushing this under the rug anymore.

“It is not acceptable to pull our children out of the river,” she continued. “They are failing school. They are skipping school. They are stealing from Walmart, and this is not OK anymore. It is not OK for a store to come in and make a dollar, and let this community say that it’s OK that over 50 percent of our juveniles are on probation.”