Although many people have access to that system, it works much slower than West Virginia's limited-access database, Potters said.
Potters recommended lawmakers keep access to the database limited.
He said opening up access to the database to all West Virginia sheriff departments would make it more difficult for the Board of Pharmacy to keep an eye out for misuse.
"With more access comes the need for more ad hoc review," he said. "With more risk comes more responsibility to police the system."
Potters said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that, while the government has a legitimate interest in collecting information about controlled substances, it also must protect to privacy of doctors, pharmacists and patients.
Cpl. Wendy Comer, who works for the State Police's drug diversion unit, also said access should remain limited.
She said giving untrained police officers access to the drug database could lead to misuse of the information.
"The more people that have access to it, the more chances of misuse," she said.
Comer said the database is only a tool for law enforcement. Police cannot arrest someone based solely on information from the database, and that information also cannot be used in court.
"A lot of officers don't understand that and we have to explain it to them," she said.
She said even if the database points to illegal activity, officers must confirm the information with the doctor or pharmacy to make sure it is accurate. A patient may receive hundreds of pills within a few days but still might not be breaking any laws.
"It could be misuse, or it could be a legitimate prescription for a broken leg or a head injury, two separate prescriptions," she said.
She said currently, troopers keep a log of searches they perform for other officers, recording who those officers requested information about and the reason for their inquiry. There have not been any reported cases of misuse since the database went online in 2005, Comer said.
The sheriffs' association made some progress toward gaining access to the drug database during last year's legislative session.
Last February, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin that would overhaul the state's drug tracking system, adding in an amendment that would allow sheriffs access to that system.
The bill eventually passed, although the amendment including sheriffs was removed along the way.