By Lacie Pierson [email protected]
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates is advancing a bill supporters say will deter people from possessing and distributing drugs, particularly fentanyl or drugs containing it.
People who work in or have gone through the state’s incarceration system said the bill will make it harder for people convicted of drug crimes to productively reenter and contribute to society.
The debate about the Committee Substitute for House Bill 2257 lasted more than an hour during a House Judiciary Committee meeting Monday, and it ended with the committee advancing the bill to the full House for further consideration.
“We must do things like this to emphasize that what you’re dealing with is a bomb that you’re going to give to somebody. Maybe it goes up and maybe it doesn’t,” Delegate Mark Zatezelo, R-Hancock, said during the meeting. “That scares me. We’re allowing that to happen.”
The bill is a callback to a similar bill from the 2021 session.
Lawmakers pared down the 2022 version of the bill after its critics said the measure was too broad last year, but even the pared-down version wasn’t enough to redeem the bill, said Delegate Joey Garcia, D-Marion, who said HB 2257 was “an awful bill.”