New opioid law now in effect in West Virginia - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

New opioid law now in effect in West Virginia


WEST VIRGINIA (WVVA) A new law aimed at reducing abuse of the drug suboxone, designed to wean people off opioids went into effect Friday.

It more tightly regulates those clinics treating people with suboxone. Suboxone is a partial opioid antagonist prescribed to people to gradually help them beat their addiction. It works by blocking an opioids effects before they can be activated. It can be prescribed and picked up at pharmacies that choose to dispense it. The new law aims to reduce the amount of people who abuse or sell the drug.

Kelli Harshbarger, assistant prosecutor in Mercer County says, "When they sell it to someone, what I have seen, is when they are using it when they can't get their pill of choice it is at least some type of stop gap."

At the end of March, two people were arrested on drug and child neglect charges in Bluewell. James Locklear and Heather Kiser were allegedly found with crack-cocaine and suboxone. A drug round up in April also found that the drug suboxone was being sold to undercover officers. 

Prosecuting attorney Scott Ash says it is a felony to carry it with intent to deliver and that means a 1-15 year jail sentence. The new law imposes more regulations and inspections of clinics that treat people taking suboxone.

Harshbarger says, "With this increased oversight, increased counseling, therapy and that type of thing I think it is a positive step with saying let's fix what is wrong with the program and keep what is working."

The new law also requires patient treatment plans and counseling to better warn them of the ramifications of abusing the drug or selling it.


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