GOP governor hopeful backs drug dealer mandatory minimums

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Cole wants to address West Virginia's drug abuse epidemic by establishing mandatory minimum jail sentences for drug dealers.

Cole, the state Senate president, released the idea in a seven-point drug plan. He'll discuss it Tuesday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in Morgantown.

Cole said his first act as governor would be a drug epidemic-focused special session.

He said he'd push for harsher penalties for drug dealers, including mandatory minimums. He said anyone caught bringing their "poison" into the state would be imprisoned a long time.

Addressing prison overcrowding, former Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013 implemented a change so low-level, non-violent drug offenders without large-scale gang or cartel ties wouldn't face charges carrying mandatory minimums.

Cole faces billionaire Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Justice in November.

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