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Weirton passes ordinance aimed at controlled substance abuse

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An ordinance passed this week will now make it illegal to be under the influence of a controlled substance in public in the city of Weirton.

As the addiction epidemic increases across the country, officials say they are trying to be proactive.

City Manager Travis Blosser referred to this new ordinance as another tool at the disposal of law enforcement.

In fact, city officials were so adamant about getting this piece of legislation approved that an emergency reading on it was held this week, ultimately passing. The ordinance, similar to public intoxication from alcohol, will now make it illegal for anyone to be under the influence of a controlled substance in public. Prior to the ordinance taking effect, subjects under the influence would either be taken to the hospital or taken home. Now, they will be taken to jail.

“They want to see the police department armed with every resource that they possibly can in order to combat these crimes, and to also make sure that eventually these people who are caught with these different types of drug related offenses, can eventually get the help that they need,” said City Manager Travis Blosser.

Blosser went on to commend the police department on the work they have done in the community in regard to the drug problem.

Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander says a number of businesses in the area have called his department with complaints of people high on controlled substances.

“These addicts were going in, stealing things, running out of the store and literally passing out in the parking lot,” Alexander said.

“We have been continuously seeing the controlled substance ones on a regular basis,” he continued. "You can't just come in and pull into the parking lot of the local Kroger’s and shoot up heroin and expect that nothing's going to happen."

The drug epidemic is frustrating to Alexander and his department, but he says they aren't the only ones.

“This is the community that's frustrated,” he said. “People that live here, and they go to the local store, they don't want to pull up alongside a car in the parking lot and see these people passed out in a drug induced coma."

City council immediately jumped on board with the ordinance and passed it during an emergency reading earlier this week

“Weirton continues to move forward in positive manners in multiple different fronts, and we want to continue to do that, and in order to do that you have to take these proactive, progressive steps, and we're doing that,” Blosser said.

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