PARKERSBURG - Protesters took to the streets with signs advertising "K2 Must Go" in front of the Pioneer Book Store at 6603 Emerson Ave. Tuesday to show their disapproval for a synthetic drug being sold legally at the bookstore.
Those who showed up to protest the sale of K2 have been trying to reach local officials and law enforcement officers about the drug epidemic, they said. Motorists coming to and from Parkersburg on W.Va. 2 seemed to agree with the upset residents.
The group members received numerous honks and waves in favor of what they were doing.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Chief Deputy Shawn Graham, far right, of the Wood County Sheriff's Office chats with Dave Welsh, second from the right, and others who protested in front of the Pioneer Adult Book Store on Emerson Avenue near the W.Va. 2 and Interstate 77 interchange in Parkersburg over the sale of K2 Tuesday.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Gail Kesterson waves at a motorist honking in support of a K2 protest in front of the Pioneer Adult Book Store on Emerson Avenue in Parkersburg Tuesday.
K2 "spice" is a synthetic form of marijuana and is legal to buy and sell over the counter.
The approximately 15 people at Tuesday's protest said they informed the county prosecutor and sheriff's office of their intentions and went through the necessary precautions to form a peaceful protest.
Duane West of Vienna said he came out to show his disapproval with the local store being able to sell a synthetic form of marijuana.
The Pioneer, Police & K2
* This past March, the Wood County Sheriff's office responded to a breaking and entering and robbery of the Pioneer Book Store.
* Chief Deputy Shawn Graham with the Wood County Sheriff's Office said someone entered the store, stole a packet of K2 and when officers arrived the suspect was on top of the building.
* According to police, the man said he wasn't coming off the roof until he smoked the drug.
"Whether it's five minutes or five hours if you just make people aware I think it will make a difference," West said. "I can't knowingly be a part of PTOs and volunteer at church and school functions knowing that people like this are out here doing that stuff."
Chief Deputy Shawn Graham with the Wood County Sheriff's Office said he agrees with the protesters. He showed up on Tuesday afternoon to tell them as long as they weren't causing a traffic hazard what they were doing was legal.
"I completely understand why they're here and support them," Graham said of the protesters. "I hope they get (more) people involved. I don't want our children having access to it."
State Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, said a bill he co-wrote last year was tailored to make all bath salts and drugs like it illegal.
However, Nohe said because the drug can be altered it is difficult for lawmakers to stay current with the ever-changing chemical compounds.
"As a Legislature we have tried to shut it down," Nohe said. "We tried to talk to experts to help us write these bills so that (the drugs) can't be sold legally."
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he doesn't want the substance sold over the counter.
Newell said he supports people who are protesting the sale of the drug. Having a peaceful protest in front of a building selling drugs and other items that many people disapprove of might discourage others from shopping there and fix part of the problem, he said.
Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department said K2's legality is unfortunate but it is the truth in the state.
"It is a drug but the kind (retailers) are selling isn't illegal technically," Collins said.
Attempts to reach the bookstore by phone Tuesday for comment were unsuccessful.