WILLIAMSON — The Standing Through Our Plan (STOP) Coalition addressed several issues associated with the rise of synthetic marijuana overdoses in our area at Wednesday’s meeting at the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Williamson campus.
One area of concern is that the use of synthetic marijuana is not limited to a particular age group. Barry Blair with the Williamson Police Department (WPD) said that the product is , “being used by all ages, really.”
Jeff Reynolds, representative from the Mingo County Board of Education, discussed concerns schools’ throughout the county have concerning synthetic marijuana use. “We are working with health teachers to put together packets to get out to students early in the school year to help address the issue,” he said.
Reynolds also mentioned concerns local schools have with synthetic marijuana not registering in drug screens being administered on athletes. “Principals are concerned with synthetics not showing up in drug screens,” Reynolds said.
Blair said he does not think that synthetics will show up on the average drug test. “No, that is the purpose of smoking synthetic is to pass a drug test,” Blair said.
Blair believes that there are several people selling the synthetic drug in the area. “There are different people selling it. It is easy to get,” Blair said.
Blair explained that the chemicals involved make the product extremely dangerous. “The chemicals in it are what give people such a terrible high. For one thing, it is quick acting. When people smoke it, they can’t move,” Blair said
Joshua Murphy, STOP Prevention Coordinator, discussed the difficulties involved in cracking down on synthetic marijuana because of the different types available. He explained that if one type is made illegal, one chemical can be changed and result in a new legal product being available. “There are 26 different types of synthetic marijuana available,” Murphy said.
Blair stated that new laws have recently been passed regarding synthetic marijuana.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the varying chemical compounds make it easy to create a new type of synthetic marijuana that is not covered by previous laws. To overcome this obstacle, recent legislation has been broader and more general to prohibit more types of synthetics.
It is illegal in West Virginia to distribute or possess synthetic marijuana. Under the West Virginia Code of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, it states that distributing a counterfeit substance is a felony offense. Possession of a counterfeit substance will result in a misdemeanor charge.
For more information on West Virginia laws concerning synthetic marijuana visit, http://www.legis.state.wv.us/.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)