Opinion

W.Va. officials should be ready for Ohio vote on pot

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Depending on what happens just across the Ohio River on Nov. 3, West Virginia – in particular, our region of it – could face a whole new set of drug-related challenges.

Ohio voters are being asked to approve sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. Public opinion polls indicate there is an excellent chance they will do that.

If so, sale and recreational use of marijuana would become perfectly legal within easy driving distance of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians.

Mountain State residents cross the border for a variety of commercial and recreational purposes now. Can anyone doubt seriously that if Ohio legalizes marijuana, many West Virginians in the Mid-Ohio Valley will go there to buy it? Some may consume the drug in Ohio. Others may smuggle it back to West Virginia.

Many law enforcement officials and officers in states bordering Colorado, where marijuana already has been legalized, report that has caused serious problems in their jurisdictions.

If Ohioans approve legalization, West Virginia law enforcement officials must begin learning how that may affect us – and to make whatever preparations they can to cope with an influx of marijuana that will be coming.

Lawmakers in the Mountain State had very good reasons for voting down a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, during last year’s legislative session. At the time, one Morgantown city councilmember was quoted as saying “There is always someone willing to take advantage of what is available,” in reference to the dangers of making marijuana legal in any capacity.

If it become available, even across the river, officials and law enforcement must surely know there will be West Virginians who take advantage.

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