Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jun 2005
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Paul Egan, with files from CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Minister To Urge Tougher Penalties Wants United Western Canadian Voice

MANITOBA will today push for a united western Canadian voice on tougher 
penalties for possession and distribution of crystal meth, Justice Minister 
Gord Mackintosh said yesterday.

The province will also present a meeting of western ministers in Regina 
with a proposal on how to better crack down on the home labs where the 
methamphetamine drug is manufactured, Mackintosh said at a news conference.

Crystal meth, which has effects that can be deadly, is reportedly growing 
in popularity, not only as a recreational drug that creates a long-lasting 
high but as a means of staying awake for extended periods among long-haul 
truck drivers and others in the workforce.

A 2004 study to be released at today's conference shows use of crystal meth 
among western provinces is highest in British Columbia, at 5.1 per cent of 
the population. The report says three per cent of Manitoba's population had 
used the drug in the previous year.

Federal penalties related to trafficking in crystal meth are too lenient 
and the provinces must push for them be made at least as harsh as those for 
dealing in other hard drugs, Mackintosh said.

"I've heard first-hand the devastating impacts on families," he said. "It's 
a soul-robber." Mackintosh would not give details yesterday on Manitoba's 
plan for cracking down on home crystal meth labs, which use common 
ingredients such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, found in over-the-counter 
cold and asthma medications.

Manitoba Healthy Living Minister Theresa Oswald, who is also attending 
today's one-day conference in Regina, said she wants to find the best way 
of teaching young people the devastating effects of crystal meth use.
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