Delegate Hamilton informs Buckhannon Rotary about state’s drug problem

West Virginia Delegate Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, spoke about growing problems of methamphetamine use in the state at Tuesday’s Buckhannon Rotary meeting.

He said 7 out of 10 people in the oil and gas industry cannot pass a drug test, and methamphetamine production and use is a growing problem. He said the number of drug labs in the state are growing rapidly.

“Right now, today, we are on board for doubling the number of meth labs that we had the year before,” Hamilton said, adding that the Sudafed bill, which would require the buyer to have a subscription for the medication, did not pass the state Senate. “You cannot make meth without Sudafed. It won’t work.”

He said he thinks West Virginia is “too slow” at expanding its drug courts to all 55 counties. He said that by 2017, there will be drug courts in every West Virginia county..

“It was nicknamed the ‘Justice Reinvestment’ because they’re projecting about a $140 million reduction if this will work,” Hamilton said. “That will give us the money that we can put into substance abuse counseling on an outpatient basis. That’s where all this starts.”

He also discussed dangers of the “shake-and-bake method” of making methamphetamine, advising people not to pick up plastic bottles because the drug could be produced in a two-liter bottle, and it’s “highly explosive.”

“It’s a terrible problem. Prescription drug abuse is a terrible problem in this state,” Hamilton said. “I think we ought to put more money out here for substance abuse counseling. We’re losing too many of these people. It’s counter-productive.”

Hamilton also said more than 80 percent of all prison inmates are high school dropouts. For this reason, he said the high school dropout rate should be addressed when considering how to handle prison overcrowding.

Hamilton also talked about a new driving law that will soon go into effect. He said the use of a cellphone without a hands-free device while driving will become a primary offense on July 1. The only exception is for law enforcement and emergency officials. He said texting while driving became a primary offense last year.