The top drug problem in West Virginia is abuse of prescription drugs, especially time-released opioids - painkillers - that junkies alter for a cheap thrill.
To battle this abuse, sheriff's deputies would like to access a prescription drug tracking system that the state maintains. At present, only 15 state troopers and 15 drug task forces have access to this database.
Lawmakers have said no to expanding access for three years.
They should say no a fourth time. While supporting the local sheriff in enforcing the state's laws is important, protecting the privacy of citizens is a significant concern.
Doctor-patient privacy is important in the treatment of medical conditions. Many people are reluctant to seek a doctor's care for ailments they consider embarrassing.
Just having the state collect this information should be enough to unnerve people.
In addition to the 15 troopers in the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the database is used by 15 drug task forces that cover 20 counties around the state.
At a legislative hearing on Monday, Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas made the case for giving sheriffs in the 35 other counties direct access to the database. He is the president of the West Virginia Sheriffs Association.
He pointed to the case of Dr. Anita Dawson of Milton, who was sentenced to two years in federal prison on Monday for aiding and abetting in obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery and subterfuge.