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Drug seizures in unincorporated counties

Since August 30, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s department has made 54 drug seizures. Most of this is small stuff, a few grams of pot here or there, a few pills of a prescription drug, but they’ve also made some big busts, like finding 12 pounds of marijuana and 32 marijuana plants the week of September 27, or the 99 grams of opium they found the week of October 25.

These busts, both big and small, help to illustrate a picture of what drugs people are taking in Kanawha County. Granted, this doesn’t include any of the major cities, so we’re talking about the small, unincorporated areas of the county, but hey, data is data so here goes:

Out of the 54 seizures the Kanawha County Sheriff has made, the most have been marijuana. In fact, since August 30, the Kanawha County Sheriff has not gone a week without making a marijuana seizure.

There could be a lot of explanations for this. Marijuana is easily the most popular drug in America (we’re not counting alcohol here), with 19.8 million Americans saying that they used it in the past month according to a 2013 National Institute of Drug Abuse survey.

Here’s a chart that breaks down the type of drug the Kanawha County Sheriff has seized (out of 54 seizures) since August 30.

What’s notable is the seizures of the other, harder drugs. We’re in the midst of an opioid epidemic in West Virginia, yet prescription drugs only accounted for 18.9 percent of seizures and most of them weren’t prescription painkillers. The most common prescription drug that was seized was Xanax, the anti-anxiety medication. Oxycodone, a common painkiller, was only seized once (although it was $90 worth of the drug).

As the state has started to crackdown on prescription painkillers, experts have noted a spike in heroin use. The data can’t really back that up. While there have been more heroin seizures in the past two weeks, that’s not nearly enough to illustrate a trend. Over the past few months, heroin is still only the fourth most commonly seized drug.

Here’s the chart for the seizures this past week. I’ll be posting a chart like this every week, and hopefully marking trends that start to form as more data comes in.

11/8/2015
Drug Quantity Measure Estimated Value ($)
Amphetamines/Meth 9.56 GM 1,550
Heroin 4 DU 130
Heroin 0.5 GM 50
Heroin Tar 0.8 GM 200
Marijuana 1 DU
Marijuana 21.75 GM 185
Tan Yellow Pill 2 DU 100
Total 2,215

KEY: GM = gram, DU = dosage unit (think a joint of marijuana)