It just about goes without saying that West Virginia has a drug problem. Determining which substance is more prevalent isn't nearly as obvious.
Last week, members of the Governor's Region 4 Substance Abuse Task Force gathered in Buckhannon to discuss their findings. Two of the speakers, West Virginia State Police Capt. James Merrill and Jackie Weeks from the Family Resource Network in Lewis County, cited concerns with synthetic marijuana and how easy it is to access.
There's been some sentiment that since fake pot isn't the real thing, it's OK to use. Wrong. In fact, there have been cases of kidney failure, heart attacks and death linked to the use of these drugs known as "K2" and "spice."
Later in the week, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and a congressional subcommittee continued their work on how to help prevent prescription drug abuse. Those pills too are quick to come by.
Some people even think that because prescription drugs are manufactured in a controlled environment, the drugs can't be harmful. Wrong again. No one knows what kind of reaction they can have to a medication not recommended by their doctor.
The task force and Rockefeller's Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care aim to provide education that will change public attitudes toward the use of these substances. Law enforcement leaders have made a commitment to crack down on those distributing the drugs. It seems that both of these approaches, working hand in hand, will achieve the goal of combating drug abuse, and we hope they do.
What appears to be an even more likely view of accomplishment is when the public sees the results of police efforts in taking drugs off the street. We've seen evidence of that in the area twice this week. The Upshur County Sheriff's Department dismantled a methamphetamine manufacturing ring, which led to the conviction of eight individuals. Just a few days later, the Elkins Police Department and Randolph County Sheriff's Department confiscated a yet unreleased amount of drugs from an Elkins home.
We applaud these law enforcement agencies for their work.