ROANOKE, W.Va. – There’s a raft of people around the state trying to tackle drug abuse issues in West Virginia, whether they’re lawmakers, researchers or health officials. But this week, all three were together at Stonewall Resort for a symposium to share their perspectives in how to best address the problem.
West Virginia University professor Lindsay Allen organized the event, and wants to connect lawmakers with the most effective proposals based on scientific research.
“When we say evidence-based policymaking, we mean taking ideas that have been proven effective by scientific research and incorporating them in to the laws and regulations that end up tricking down to actually impact people in the state,” said Allen.
The event included lawmakers like Delegate Matt Rohrbach. He represents Cabell and Wayne Counties near Charleston, and said the drug abuse issue is one he’s dealt with in each of his six terms, and it’s one that’s holding the state back.
“When we are seen in every federal meeting that I go to as being the leaders in substance abuse deaths, usage rates, you can’t be known as that and expect employers to come and invest money in your state, so we simply have to get this problem under control,” said Rohrbach.
Also represented at the conference, were the people charged with turning law into actual change on the ground. While researchers can study, and lawmakers pass measures, they are the ones who need to make those decisions happen, and why Allen included them at the conference as well.
“So we really wanted to make sure that perspective was represented here, because they’re the ones that ultimately have to take what’s decided in the legislature and create a plan with it,” said Allen.