Hurricane Town Council votes on anti-needle ordinance

Hurricane police could begin arresting people for hypodermic needle possession as early as September. (WCHS/WVAH)

Hypodermic needles could soon be illegal to possess without a doctor’s prescription in Hurricane because of an ordinance working its way through town council.

Mayor Scott Edwards has been pushing the anti-needle ordinance to work in tandem with the newly established criminal interdiction unit that specifically targets drug use and trafficking in the city.

"We've got to put up a wall around Hurricane, and that's what I'm tasked with," Edwards said.

He said the overdose rate has skyrocketed in the city within the last year.

"Not every day, but every week. Multiple times every week we're seeing overdoses -- in Hurricane, within the city limits of Hurricane," Edwards said.

Just driving by the manicured lawns, the mayor said you may never know the drug problem has been popping up.

The thought has scared locals like Robert Estep.

"I worry about the younger generation that's growing up,” Estep said. "Not only my grandkids, but there's a lot of kids in this area right now. I worry about them because it's an epidemic running rampant."

Edwards said they are not going to track down diabetics and jail them. Any legitimate medical excuse will get people off the hook. They are targeting drug paraphernalia.

Estep said without some push back, drugs will likely take over.

"It will end up like Huntington, I'm afraid," he said.

Edwards said the point of an ordinance like this and others in the city are to stop the drug problem before the city gets to epidemic levels like have been seen in Huntington and Charleston on both sides of the city.

"If they're going to do drugs and deal drugs in Hurricane, I want to make it extremely hard on them to do drugs. I want them to say, 'You know what? Let’s go somewhere else' " he said.

Town Council passed the first reading of the anti-needle ordinance Monday. Council will revisit the ordinance in the beginning of September for second reading. If it passes then, it will go into law.

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