Pubdate: Tue, 19 Oct 2004
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Samantha Craggs
Bookmark: (Youth)


Despite efforts to educate youth, the toxic plant jimson weed has made
its annual appearance in local emergency rooms. Norfolk OPP is
stressing the dangers of the plant after a youth was admitted to
hospital this weekend.

Const. Krista Schaus says there's at least one incident every fall,
when the plant blossoms and adolescents ingest the seeds. It's
frequent enough locally to be included in the OPP's VIP program, which
teaches Grade 6 students the dangers of crime and drugs. Schaus says
most drugs are included, but when one is found locally as often as
jimson weed, more time is devoted to it.

"It's usually the 13, 14 or 15 year olds," she said. "It's almost
always that age group. We devote one or two classroom sessions to
drugs. People forget that even though we have drugs you hear more
about, like marijuana and ecstasy, this is a definite issue."

Police aren't the only ones trying to educate the public. The
addictions services division of the Haldimand-Norfolk Regional Health
Department distributes flyers and information to family doctors and
the public. It also includes jimson weed in presentations at local

"Every fall it comes up because some kids will try it," said Brian
Hesketh, a drug and alcohol counsellor. "It's a very unpleasant
experience, so most of the kids who try it never do it twice. Even if
someone's only taken a little bit of the stuff, it's still a medical

Const. Eric DeSerranno says one reason jimson weed is so prevalent is
that it can be found in local gardens, cornfields and along the side
of the road. Its other names include "stinkweed" and angel's trumpet.

When ingested, the plant acts as a potent hallucinogen that can cause
dry mouth, difficulty swallowing and speaking, blurred vision,
irregular heartbeat, spasmodic movements and even seizures and comas.

"It's a really foolish drug to try," Hesketh said. "These experiences
can be very, very frightening, but the fear campaign never works with

Schaus says it's difficult to track and enforce because it's not
covered under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and possession
of it is not a crime.

"There are a lot of substances that can be found in local fields and
ditches that are not under the act," she said, "but if you do it, it's
bad for you."
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