MOUNDSVILLE - In order to combat growing drug use in West Virginia, U.S. Rep. David McKinley met with a group of Marshall County officials Tuesday to discuss the source of the drug problem in the area and possible solutions.
McKinley, R-W.Va., spoke to representatives who are involved in fighting drug use daily, including Marshall County Prosecutor Jeff Cramer, Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Cecil, Chief Deputy Bill Helms, Moundsville Police Chief Tom Mitchell, Marshall County Family Resource Network Executive Director Stacie Dei and West Virginia Adolescent Health Initiative Coordinator Melody Osborne during a roundtable meeting at the Marshall County Courthouse.
"I wanted to learn ... what to take back to Washington on this issue," McKinley said. "How are you dealing with drugs? What is working in our schools and community?"
Photo by Sarah Harmon/U.S. Rep. David McKinley, left, speaks with Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Cecil and Marshall County Prosecutor Jeff Cramer during a roundtable discussion Tuesday on drug enforcement and prevention in the state.
Cecil said the drug problem in Marshall County in the past 10 years has evolved from the use of marijuana to dealers selling prescription pills and heroin. He said the drug use and trafficking in the county is "exploding," while resources for local law enforcement to combat the problem remain limited. Cecil said many drug dealers from larger cities come to rural areas to sell because they know the law enforcement in the area won't have as many resources to investigate crimes.
Cramer said he believes the majority of crimes in the county are related to drug use. He said punishments for drug dealers should be stronger, but added long sentences do not always deter people from using drugs.
"We cannot scare someone into not using drugs," Cramer said. "For some, there's no amount of punishment to make them not use drugs. To us it doesn't make sense, but to them it's just life."
Osborne said she is seeing a trend of both adults and children being comfortable with prescription drugs and using these pills to self-medicate. Teaching children at a young age to be resilient to address life's struggles is one way to help steer them away from using pills to solve their emotional problems.
The meeting was one of a number of roundtable discussions McKinley is holding around the state to discuss a variety of issues in West Virginia, ranging from domestic violence to student aid and veterans issues.
"Our message primarily is I bring Washington to you and I bring your stories back to there and explain to our staff that this is how America is feeling with these issues," McKinley said. "There's a difference between rural areas and urban centers. For the most part West Virginia is a rural area. ... That's why I've really taken on the responsibility for speaking up for rural America."