Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2004
Source: Goldstream Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Goldstream Gazette
Author: Rick Stiebel
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Jib, gak, jab, shard, tweak, Tina, Chrissy, ice, crank, kiddy-crack or speed.

Whatever name it's going by this week, crystal methamphetamine use is 
growing at an alarming rate on the West Shore.

"We weren't hearing about it a year ago," said Cpl. Brian Kerr of the West 
Shore RCMP street crime unit. "Now we're hearing about it on a weekly, 
sometimes daily basis."

Kerr cited as an example a dealer he busted carrying crystal meth, ecstasy, 
cocaine and ketamine, a form of horse tranquilizer known as Special K, in 
the CanWest Mall area a couple of months.

"The guy was a walking pharmacy," Kerr said.

Kerr said crystal meth appeals to youths because it is relatively cheap 
compared with cocaine, and the high lasts longer, in some cases up to 12 
hours or longer. "We're seeing $10 packets for sale," Kerr said.

Crystal meth is usually snorted, smoked in a pipe or injected because of 
the rush those methods produce, but it is also taken orally.

It is highly addictive, with users increasing the dosage with regular use 
in an effort to maintain or surpass the previous high.

The feelings of endless energy, wakefulness and tolerance to pain are 
replaced by anxiety, depression and confusion when the drug wears off.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse, methamphetamines 
release high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates 
brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement.

It also appears to have a neurotoxic effect, damaging brain cells that 
contain dopamine and serotonin, which is another neurotransmitter.

Continued use appears to cause reduced levels of dopamine, which can cause 
symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, severe movement disorder, memory 
loss and loss of motor skills.

Kerr predicts more addict-related crime such as break and enters and thefts 
from vehicles by users trying to feed their habits.

"I'm concerned not only as a police officer, but as a parent," Kerr said. 
"I have kids in the school system."

Kerr said he fielded three or four calls in November alone from parents 
concerned about their kids' erratic behaviour.

West Shore RCMP Const. Larry Jacobs, who recently returned from a drug 
awareness course, was in on several crystal meth lab investigations when he 
was working in the Lower Mainland.

"The labs don't have to be sophisticated," he said. "They're really easy to 
set up, and the chemicals used are all easily accessible."

Kerr said police are now investigating the possibility of labs on the West 

"There's a lot of big properties out this way," he said. "All you need is a 
barn to set one up."

Jacobs said people who have labs don't care how they dispose of the chemicals.

A list of chemicals that can be used to produce crystal meth reads like a 
Who's Who of hazardous materials - alcohol, paint thinner, freon, camp 
stove fuel, iodine, acetone, fire starter, anti-freeze, sulphuric acid, 
lye, drain cleaner and phosphorous from match heads.

According to data compiled by the RCMP, the production of one pound of 
crystal meth creates five to six pounds of toxic waste.

"I saw a lab on the mainland where they just dumped the chemicals in the 
yard," Jacobs said. "They soaked through the soil and contaminated a stream."

The labs pose considerable risk for police once they've been busted.

"Taking down a lab is very risky," he said.

Jacobs said, in addition to the environmental risks, the labs pose 
significant danger because they have a propensity to catch fire or blow up, 
especially if those working in them are careless or under the influence.

If you have concerns about your kids experimenting with crystal meth, 
contact Kerr or Jacobs at 474-2264.

"We want to help," Kerr said. "And we'll guarantee anonymity to anyone who 
contacts us."
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