Pubdate: Wed, 24 Aug 2005
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Duncan News Leader
Author: Susan Quinn


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 recently that penalties will increase for possession, trafficking,
production and importation of methamphetamine, commonly known as crystal

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

"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

"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." 
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