RICHMOND (WRIC)—A new bill could close a loophole in the law that allows existing methadone clinics to move near schools and daycares.
Back in November, we told you about a Shockoe Bottom clinic that sits just a block away from Bellevue Elementary School in Church Hill.
A bill passed by the General Assembly in 2004 says new methadone clinics need to be at least a half mile away from schools and daycares, but the clinic in Shockoe Bottom was an existing clinic that moved to that location, so the law didn't apply. That's why Delegate Jennifer McClellan proposed a bill to make sure that, moving forward, the law applies to all clinics.
“There's a loophole in that bill that if it's an already existing methadone clinic that moves, that law didn't apply,” McClellan said.
In November 2013, several Bellevue Elementary School parents told us they were concerned about having a methadone clinic so close to their children's school.
“It's not only the drugs, but … the people,” one mother said.
ABC 8 News even found pills on the sidewalk in front of the methadone clinic on East Franklin Street.
McClellan has introduced a new bill to amend the current law, and make sure all clinics—including existing ones—can't move near schools.
“Parents, the teachers are concerned, because of some of the clientele and some of the people that come to the clinic or congregate around the clinic, and having them be in such close proximity to children,” she said.
As a mother herself, McClellan says she understands their worries.
“There are just certain things that you try to do to keep your children safe,” McClellan said. “If you look at that clinic … it's facing … you can see it from the playground of the school, and then the kids come home and they ask some questions you're not really sure you want to have to answer.”
McClellan says she hasn't encountered any opposition to her bill, so she's confident it will pass. Because the methadone clinic in Shockoe Bottom opened before the 2004 law went into effect, there's not much the city can do in terms of making it move elsewhere.
If passed, McClellan's amendment would only impact future clinics from opening near schools.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond