May 03, 2011

Manchin outlines plan to fight drug abuse Huntington | The Cabell Standard

HUNTINGTON - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., came to Huntington last week to announce a three-point plan to fight drug abuse.

Manchin was joined at the announcement at Cabell Huntington Hospital by community officials, physicians and members of law enforcement, who stressed the immediate need for commonsense federal measures to combat drug abuse in West Virginia and the nation.

West Virginia has one of the nation's highest rates of drug overdose deaths, and Manchin pledged his support for legislation that would put a federal ban on deadly synthetic drugs being marketed as "bath salts" and "plant food" and add them to the list of controlled substances.

He also announced that he will introduce new legislation in the U.S. Senate to crack down on so-called "pill mills," the places people can go to get powerful prescription drugs that they do not use for medical reasons.

"Every day, our hospitals deal with the effects of drug overdose. Each day, families are being destroyed by prescription drug abuse and other synthetic drugs," Manchin said at Cabell Huntington Hospital in announcing his plan. "No one should be able to exploit loopholes or weaknesses in the law to manufacture dangerous and illicit drugs. The commonsense measures I am announcing today would strengthen our laws and better protect our families and children from the dangers of drug abuse."

Colonel Jay Smithers, Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police, said the legislation would give law enforcement officers needed tools to crack down on rampant drug abuse.

"This legislation will send a crystal clear message that the United States Congress will do everything possible to empower law enforcement agencies at all levels to continue the fight against the availability and sale of illegal and illicit drugs and narcotics across our nation," Smithers said. "Sen. Manchin, along with other state and local lawmakers, has recognized the dangers these products present to our communities - many of which are already riddled with drug abuse problems - and has worked diligently with government leaders and law enforcement agencies across the nation and right here at home to curb this avenue of drug abuse before it worsens."

Dr. Kevin Yingling, who is both a pharmacist and Chairman of Internal Medicine at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, spoke of how communities are plagued by the abuse of synthetic chemicals and prescription drugs - which are abused despite their legitimate uses.

"We applaud Senator Manchin's action to support this bill. When passed, this bill will help remove dangerous chemicals of abuse and addiction from our society," Dr. Yingling said. "Senator Manchin, thank you for this courageous action to protect the citizens of West Virginia."

By:  Jim Hale