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Legislation creating Office of Drug Policy awaits governor’s signature

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill passed by the Legislature on the last day of its 60-day session would centralize information on drug crimes, research and treatment.

House Bill 2620 would create the Office of Drug Control Policy within the Department of Health and Human Resources. The office would be responsible for providing administrative support and funding to combating substance abuse, as well as collect crime and overdose data.

The bill had yet to make it to the governor’s desk as of Friday. Once he gets it, he’ll have 15 days to decide whether to sign or veto the legislation.

According to the bill, the information collected would be analyzed so lawmakers could create policies affecting the criminal justice system.

Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan, 15), says the results of the bill will help the state better address drug issues.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said the bill would make it easier for the state to address drug issues.

“The medical data is going one place, the law enforcement data goes another place,” he said. “This will give us the hub where this data can be stored and utilized.”

Trump said this will allow lawmakers to create better legislation that could help decide central planning for the entire state.

“We passed around in this legislature in this 60 days numerous plans to figure out how to do it,” he said.

In an earlier engrossed version of the bill, the Division of Justice and Community Services would have to create two forms for various parties; prosecuting attorneys would have report information regarding criminal charges involving drug use, while medical personnel would have a form requiring them to report on how they treated someone who overdosed.

Trump said Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch told lawmakers his department is willing to take on this responsibility at no additional cost to the state.

“What this is aimed at is providing a place where the services and the people who are engaged in this war on drugs can be coordinated,” he said. “Where data can be collected and centrally stored to be used by everyone engaged in this war on drugs in West Virginia.”

The Senate unanimously approved the bill, and the House of Delegates voted 96-4 in favor.

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