Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2005
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Susan Quinn
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The federal government has unveiled tougher laws to combat the scourge of 
crystal meth -but they don't go far enough, says Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean 

Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Justice Minister Irwin Cotler 
announced Thursday that penalties will increase for possession, 
trafficking, production and importation of methamphetamine, commonly known 
as crystal meth.

The maximum jail term has been increased to life in prison from 10 years. 
No minimum jail terms were announced.

Dosanjh also said there will now be stiffer penalties for illegal 
possession of precursor chemicals, or those used in the production of 
crystal meth.

"I think it's important to look at a crack-down on sentences, but I would 
be disappointed if that's all we end up doing," Crowder said. "I'm always 
nervous when it looks like what we're doing is a one-off approach. It's 
fine to crack down on sentencing. That deals with access to the drugs, but 
it doesn't deal with some of the other problems."

Crowder said she has been meeting with people running addiction facilities 
on the Island and there is a lack of resources for dealing with crystal 
meth addicts.

"It's a pretty serious problem."

Experts say that crystal meth is one of the cheapest, most versatile and 
addictive street drugs - and it's also one of the hardest to treat. 
Withdrawal symptoms are said to be worse than those for heroin or cocaine.

The other thing that stiffer sentences don't address is why people are 
taking the drug in the first place, Crowder said: some of the social issues 
that often have people in situations where they abuse drugs as a way of 
looking at solving other issues.

"What we need is a comprehensive education program to talk to youth about 
the impact of crystal meth," she said.

Crowder pointed to the effectiveness that anti-smoking campaigns have had 
on the decreasing number of people who smoke, and correlated it with the 
rise in school-based anti-smoking programs.

She said it's time to teach kids in school about the dangers of crystal meth.

"Alberta, who's not seen as a bastion of progressive thinking, has actually 
talked about ... a comprehensive education campaign for young people in 
schools. They would talk about dangers, they would talk about all those 
kinds of things that are impacting on kids' decisions on whether to use 
crystal meth."

While education is a provincial responsibility, Crowder said the federal 
government could help by providing incentives to provinces who adopt such 
school programs.
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