WV officials crack down, educate on synthetic drugs
June 1, 2011 ·
State law enforcement officials are cracking down on the sale and use of so-called “synthetic drugs.” West Virginia State Police are taking the lead in educating the public about the dangers of such substances as "K-2" and “bath salts.”
The West Virginia Legislature passed House
Bill 2505 during this winter’s session to add synthetic cannabinoids and
hallucinogens and stimulants to the Schedule I list of controlled substances in
The bill became law this spring.
According to State Senator Evan Jenkins, such usage is as serious as that of heroine, saying "It is a felony to distribute or manufacture this. It's a little less of a penalty for the possession but, folks this is serious stuff.”
The Senator from Cabell County
joined those in attendance at a news conference at the headquarters of the West
Virginia State Police.
Jenkins praised citizens and local
governments for taking action against products known as “K-2” and “bath salts”
before state lawmakers had done so. "The Legislature, of course, comes in annually. So, when we started this last January, there already had been work to outlaw synthetic marijuana and synthetic cocaine at the local level."
Jenkins is concerned about store
owners who are being misled by distributors who claim their products are legal
within the new state law.
While state officials are committed to
aggressive enforcement of the new law, they’re hoping an educational campaign
will raise awareness of the risks to users and the legal consequences for shops
that sell the synthetic drugs.
Jenkins, "We think it's important so those shop owners, those retail folks who are working behind the counter aren't caught in the middle about what's going on here."
Dave Potters is Executive Director and
General Counsel for the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy. He praised the work of the State Police Crime Lab and Dr. Mike O’Neill
of the University
of Charleston for their
"The Board of Pharmacy simply piggy-backed them and the Legislature because this is an important issue that they felt deserved the full attention of, not just the Legislature, but of the Board of Pharmacy as an administrative body as part of the Department of Administration's efforts, with the State Police to combat these illegal substances.”
According to state officials, West Virginia has
possibly the most elaborate and complete database of the synthetic drug
products in the country.
Soraya McClung, Director of the State
Police Forensic Lab, says, "The laboratory has been very proactive about this epidemic. We started several months ago to actually try to collect as many samples as we could, to test all the different formulations that are out there and to be ready in anticipation of all the case that we would be receiving once the substances would be banned.”
The lab is testing products seized during
recent raids and State Police will
consider further action once the results are in, but they’re hoping their
educational effort will play a major role in avoiding more serious problems
with synthetic drugs.