By, Samantha Gray
(THE PICKET) – John is well aware of the drug scourge that plagues his hometown in Berkeley County, West Virginia. He’s been contributing to it since he was 12.
“I sell the good kush,” he said.
Mainly selling marijuana and mushrooms, he used to only sell to friends until he realized that he could make more money selling to strangers. “To make the real money, you have to travel,” John said. Several times a month he travels to the southern part of the state or across state lines to Virginia to sell drugs.
John, who asked that his real name not be used, is one of the many drug dealers in the area. Drugs are transported from Baltimore, Maryland, through Interstate 81, which makes Berkeley County an ideal spot to buy and sell drugs.
John keeps his clients organized and always makes sure they pay him the full amount before he gives them their drugs. He has a schedule for certain clients and meets them regularly to sell to them. “I think the drugs I sell should be legal,” he said. His biggest concern is that he will get caught with these drugs on him and have to go to jail.
“I’m trying to get high,” he said, “and if I can help someone else get high I will.” John doesn’t worry about exposing his son to drugs.
Just 8 months old, the child can use drugs when he’s older, John said, as long as he does it at home. “I can show him how to be safe,” John said. John doesn’t plan to stop selling or using drugs unless he gets caught or develops a health problem. “It’s fun, and it changes me,” John said. He described himself as talkative and relaxed when high.
“I know people are dying, it’s not something to laugh about,” John said when asked about the overdoses in Berkeley County. “Know where your stuff comes from, There should be help for people who want it, but it shouldn’t be forced. Let them get high,” John said. He said that as long as people have something to complain about, they’ll find reasons to get high.
Berkeley County, West Virginia, is a high drug trafficking area, according to the West Virginia State police annual report for 2015.
According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, Berkeley County has a higher percentage of illicit use of drugs other than marijuana.
In 2015, 761 in every 10 thousand patients admitted to the hospital were for drug- related incidents, which is 50 percent higher than the West Virginia average and the second highest in the state next to Cabell County, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
In a report released by the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Berkeley County had 24 heroin overdoses in 2015, a rate that has risen annually for the past five years. The abuse of prescription pain killers contributes to the hike in heroin users, the report said.
In a six-month span in 2015, Berkeley County sheriffs seized 42.7 grams of heroin. According to the Heroin Treatment Needs for Berkeley County report prepared by a law enforcement task force, the increased violent crime is due to the increase in heroin trafficking through Berkeley County.
Samantha Gray is a staff writer for The Picket. She can be reached at Sgray05@rams.shepherd.edu