The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


January 9, 2014

Drug bills

The Joint Committee on Health this week decided against releasing a bill to legalize medical marijuana, but will put forward a measure that would allow emergency personnel and police to administer treatment to overdose victims on the spot.

We think the committee got both of these calls right.

The second of the bills, a proposed Good Samaritan measure, would allow emergency services personnel to carry a supply and administer the drug Naloxone, known as an opiod antagonist.

In non-medical terms, it’s a drug that is given to people suffering from a drug overdose, such as heroin or some of the pharmaceutical painkillers that mimic the effects of heroin.

The measure also contains a clause which provides amnesty for drug users seeking medical care in cases of overdose.

In an emergency situation, that is the charitable thing to do. No one should be denied or decide against potentially life-saving emergency care out of fear of arrest.

We would hope that an overdose victim brought back from the edge of darkness would see the light, and seek longterm treatment for his or her addiction.

A key factor in this bill is that it would grant legal immunity to emergency personnel should they administer Naloxone, or if in their professional opinion, they decide against using the drug on an overdose victim.

These decisions are being made in second-by-second emergency situations. We think emergency personnel need to be able to make their best judgments at that time, without fearing legal consequences for their actions.

On the marijuana issue, we also think the Joint Committee on Health made the correct decision.

Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, has once again submitted a bill to make medical marijuana legal.

As we have said previously, we think legalizing medical marijuana sends the wrong message to West Virginians as we continue to fight against the scourge of addiction to prescription painkillers.

Manypenny says nobody’s ever overdosed on marijuana, which may or may not be the case. But driving while stoned most certainly has caused car accidents and almost just as certainly has cost someone their life.

“We need to refocus energy away from making prescription drug abuse a criminal offense and give people rehabilitation,” he said. “Marijuana can be a tool to fight other substance abuse problems.”

We are not experts in the field of drug rehabilitation.

But we doubt that many drug experts see substituting an addiction to one drug with an addiction to another one as the proper way to treat a drug user.

West Virginia’s drug problem is going to take a dedicated and sustained effort to overcome. Putting more illegal drugs on the street, even marijuana, could string out that process for years to come.

Text Only
  • Court ruling

    Freedom of information won’t be so free any longer

    April 20, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, April 19, 2014

    April 18, 2014

  • New thinking

    Best way to address past financial failings is to look for alternatives

    April 17, 2014

  • Continuing the fight

    Solutions for drug war may need to be as tough as the problem

    April 16, 2014

  • Take me home

    You can go home again.

    April 15, 2014

  • Team work

    There is no doubt that last week’s announcement by the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority of plans for a 500-acre Mega-Site development is one of the most visionary ideas we have seen in southern West Virginia.

    April 13, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, April 12, 2014

    April 12, 2014

  • Concord

    Impressive achievements in higher education reflected in quality of finalists for president

    April 10, 2014

  • Service

    In West Virginia, we often measure our “wealth” by all the things we can generally do without.

    April 9, 2014

  • Nutrition

    How much can we trust government to advise us on food?

    April 8, 2014