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Legislature should adopt tougher drug bill to protect children

From The Inter-Mountain of Elkins:

All too frequently, reports we publish on people arrested for drug offenses mention that children were present when the crimes were committed. That is unacceptable, especially when young ones are put at physical risk.

Various bills in the Legislature are aimed at cracking down on adults who are more interested in making, selling and using illegal drugs than in the welfare of their children.

One measure, approved this week by the House of Delegates, increases penalties for manufacturing methamphetamines where children are present. State senators should adopt the measure, too, and Gov. Jim Justice should sign it into law.

Producing methamphetamines is a risky endeavor. There is risk of fire and explosion. Inhaling fumes can be harmful. So can allowing one’s skin to come in contact with some of the substances involved. It is not uncommon for the authorities to seal off “meth houses” until they can be decontaminated professionally.

Anyone who would expose a child to that sort of danger is guilty of premeditated, serious child abuse. Penalties stiffer than those available now could serve as a deterrent.

So could enhanced punishment envisioned in other bills for other types of drug crimes committed while children are present.

What drug producers and dealers do to other adults is bad enough. Placing children in jeopardy demands harsh punishment.

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