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Editorial for June 9, 1998

Warnings of drug-laced stickers can't be ignored

(June 9) Individuals who exploit the vulnerability of others for their own gain -- it's certainly not something new. In fact, it has resurfaced in north central West Virginia in the form of warnings about drug-tainted stickers.

One elementary school principal in Marion County, who had been handed a letter saying that the drugs were circulating in the area, sent students home with a letter to their parents with that warning.

Parents were alerted to not allow their children to touch the stickers that featured cartoon characters, animal figures and superheroes that could be laced with hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and even cyanide. They were told that the drug could be absorbed through touching, as well as licking.

We're not describing a Hollywood-produced movie, but a social problem that in our view is as serious as keeping weapons out of the hands of youngsters and must be addressed immediately.

The only difference between guns and stickers is that while we're not for a ban on guns in general -- although we're against the kids having them -- we are for banning the drugs themselves as much as the possession and abuse of them.

It's our strong opinion that anyone who believes such drugs don't exist should pull his or her head out of the sand. Sadly, this instance in north central West Virginia is but a microcosm of what's taking place in schools -- in fact in all facets of life -- across the United States.

In communities on every hill and in every valley of this country we desperately need officials with courage -- enough to stand up against the forces that continue to perpetuate this preying on the week for the gain of the powerful.

An official from the Fairmont Clinic, which verified the report on the existence of the drugs, says she believes the information "came from a larger city, but something we feel everyone should look out for."

Just as with firearms abuse, no community is so small or historically free of such problems that it can't be victimized for the first time.

The wake-up call has been sounded. It's up to all of us to respond.

Robert F. Stealey