Newsbrief: Resistance to Methadone Clinics Rears Head in Virginia, Washington State 1/21/05

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/371/methadonewars.shtml

Southwest Virginia has been one of the centers of the so-called Oxycontin epidemic in recent years, so one would think people there would be keen to support treatments designed to wean people from the drug. One would be wrong. Last year, state Sen. William Wampler (R-Bristol) managed to get a bill passed blocking methadone maintenance clinics from operating in his part of the state. He was responding to strong public sentiment opposing the clinics. In Washington County, opposition stopped a clinic near a local high school. In Pound and Wise Counties, residential opposition blocked a new clinic from opening near the Kentucky border. In Scott County, a fight is ongoing to block a proposed clinic near Gate City.

Thursday, a bill sponsored by Wampler that would halt licensing of methadone clinics across the state until regulations can be developed breezed through the state Senate. The measure now goes to the House of Delegates, where it will be voted on along with a companion bill drafted by Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) that would prevent methadone clinics from "targeting" counties without regulations.

Wampler's bill, if passed, would give state officials 280 days to develop regulations for the clinics, effectively creating a moratorium on the clinics for the next nine months.

Meanwhile, across the country in Washington state, a Clark County Commissioner is asking state officials to hold a community forum on the clinics before one is allowed to open in Vancouver, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Commissioner Betty Sue Morris told the Daily Columbian that she was responding to citizen concerns in requesting the forum. Those public concerns appear to have been stirred up by an anonymous flier distributed to residents of several Vancouver neighborhoods.

But they also reflect genuine hostility to the clinics by some elements of the community. "We were not consulted on this development," said Jock Demme, a Sherwood Ridge resident. "It has flown in under the radar of community concern. There will be a concerted citizens' effort to stop this dead in its tracks. We will not have a drug distribution center in our neighborhood."

The county is already home to one methadone clinic which has been in operation since October without any problems.

The state Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, which licensed such clinics in the state, has expressed a willingness to discuss the issue with the community. "They were interested in knowing, if they requested a community meeting, would the state hold one," DASA official David Crane told the Daily Columbian. "We said yes." No date for the hearing will be set until the state receives a formal request from the county, which should happen next week, Morris said.

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Issue #371 -- 1/21/05

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Editorial: Unfortunate Bedfellows | Following Oklahoma's Lead, States Target Cold Remedies in Fight Against Methamphetamine | Mexican Stand-Off: Government Sends in Tanks, Soldiers in Effort to Retake Prisons from Narcos | Blogging: A Stunning Admission by Baltimore Police Officials, and More | This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Newsbrief: German Supreme Court Rejects "Zero Tolerance" Drugged Driving Law in Cannabis Case | Newsbrief: Mass Arrests of Drug Users in Iran | Newsbrief: Marijuana Bills Filed -- Medical Marijuana in New Jersey, Decriminalization in New Hampshire | Newsbrief: Resistance to Methadone Clinics Rears Head in Virginia, Washington State | Newsbrief: King County Bar Association (Seattle) Calls for Legal, Regulated Drug Markets | Newsbrief: Texas Bill Would Ban Drug Offenders from Entering Certain San Antonio Neighborhoods | Newsbrief: Last Week's Supreme Court Ruling Pays Off for New York Woman | Newsbrief: Martha Stewart, Prisoner Advocate | Newsbrief: MPP Assists Poor Montana Medical Marijuana Patients | Newsbrief: Maine Activist Providing Medical Marijuana Indicted for Trafficking and Cultivation | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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