CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Delegate Chris Stansbury will host a drug summit in Charleston Monday night after Parkersburg hosted a similar event last week.
The drug situation in West Virginia is now widely referred to as a crisis or an epidemic, and Stansbury said the summit aims to get people talking.
“The idea behind it is to get as many thought leaders, as many folks that have been involved in addiction treatments, or who have been involved in chasing down or prosecuting drug crime,” Stansbury said. “And to try to get a lot of different perspectives in the same room and have a conversation about what’s going on in West Virginia.”
Last week’s summit in Parkersburg was hosted by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. Goodwin said that West Virginia’s drug problem isn’t one that can be solved by prosecution and arrests alone, which Stansbury agreed with.
“The war on drugs locked up a lot of addicts, and the criminal justice system hasn’t effectively dealt with those addicts,” he said. “To just lock somebody away doesn’t deal with those addictive tendencies when they’re released. They tend to fall right back into those tendencies again.”
He thought that if the problem is ever to be turned around in West Virginia, a multi-faceted approach will be necessary.
“I think we have to look at all the different things that are involved both from youth education and cracking down on drug crime in West Virginia,” he explained. “Making sure we can keep drugs out of the hands of our young people to try to break the cycle of addiction. And making sure we have enough treatment to help those that are addicted.”
He said that having former or current drug addicts at the summit is important to get a firsthand account of the challenges they face. At the Parkersburg summit, Manchin talked about the ease of access to prescription drugs in home medicine cabinets. Stansbury agreed that pills should never be left unattended.
“Leaving drugs around unsecured is an open invitation for young people to experiment with them, to take them and sell them to people they know that use them,” he said.
The summit will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Culture Center Theatre at the Capitol Complex. House Speaker Tim Armstead and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will also attend.
Brief comments will be made by panelists and then a question and answer session will follow.