Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jul 2004
Source: Melfort Journal, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2004, The Melfort Journal
Author: Colin McGarrigle


The words have been whispered, the abuse is happening and lives are being 
destroyed, but nobody really knows how bad the problem is in Melfort with 
the crystal methamphetamine endemic.

Melfort Journal -- The words have been whispered, the abuse is happening 
and lives are being destroyed, but nobody really knows how bad the problem 
is in Melfort with the crystal methamphetamine endemic.

Also known as 'speed', 'crank', 'chalk', 'ice', 'quartz', 'cristy' or just 
'meth', the drug is sweeping the nation and leaving a trail of tattered 
lives behind it.

While the drug initially was only a big city problem over the past few 
years, smaller communities, like Melfort, are no longer free of the drug 
and options are being sought to find solutions to the problem.

Melfort RCMP Staff Sergeant Mark van Schie said that crystal meth is 
prevalent in Melfort and that it's sometimes hard to tackle the situation.

"We have made seizures of it here and we have charged people for possession 
(of meth) and for trafficking it. But, there's a lot more out there than 
what we come across," stated van Schie, who added that the drug is not 
limited to just younger people, but middle-aged people as well.

Melfort Mayor Darrell Collins said that he is aware of the situation, but 
is unsure what size of a problem Melfort may have with meth use. "It seems 
to be a concern across the province. It's (meth) in the community 
obviously, but I don't know the frequency in which it's being used or the 
magnitude of it," Collins admitted.

The Saskatoon Integrated Drug Unit of the RCMP held an informative meeting 
on the drug on June 8 in Melfort, which was well attended by the public.

During that presentation, many parents learned of the dangers of the drug 
for the first time, which has left parents questioning the seriousness of 
the problem.

One parent, whose child was addicted to meth, said that it is not an 
isolated problem.

"The RCMP know it's here, the schools know it's here, but how many parents 
know it's here?" said the parent, who asked that their name be withheld to 
avoid public embarrassment.

"There is absolutely no way that one kid, in a community this size, is the 
only one messed up in this stuff. We wouldn't sit by and watch as they put 
a loaded gun to their heads and pulled the trigger, and we can't stand by 
and watch them kill themselves with crystal meth," said the parent on the 
seriousness of the issue.

S/Sgt. van Schie is well aware of how destructive the drug can be, but as 
with any other RCMP detachment in smaller communities - they don't have 
enough manpower to devote to any one type of crime.

"Every RCMP unit would like to have more resources to deal with a number of 
crime issues. Certainly, with the whole drug environment in Melfort and 
area, we would certainly like to dedicate more resources to it, but there's 
other things that we need to do as well," explained van Schie.

What makes meth so difficult for RCMP is the mobility of the labs that 
produce the drugs, the ease in which it is made, and the lack of useful 

"The equipment required is fairly minimal and it's fairly mobile. You're 
not likely to come across a lab set up anywhere, you might come across 
sites where there's garbage left over from processing a batch, but 
generally, we don't expect to come across a lab set-up," stated van Schie.

He added that many crimes being committed in the Melfort area have a direct 
link to drug use.

"There's definitely crime happening to support drug habits, whether they 
are under the influence (of meth) at the time when the crimes are 
committed, it's quite possible," van Schie said.

Mayor Collins reiterated that it is hard to determine the size of the 
problem, but added that it is something that needs to be dealt with from a 
number of different angles in order to be successful.

"It has to be a community focus. All of the agencies: education, health, 
police, council, counsellors, they all have to be involved so that it can 
be approached systematically," said Collins.
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