Pubdate: Wed, 14 Feb 2007
Source: Kincardine Independent, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Kincardine Independent
Author: Kiel Edge
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A new drug is being used in Bruce County, and police are stepping up
their efforts to prevent Kincardine from experiencing its deadly side

OPP Constable Jeff Mercey said Kincardine's drug problem is no worse
than that of other Canadian towns, but he's concerned with the recent
increase of crystal methamphetamine use in the area.

"In the last five years, I've definietly noticed an increase in the
use of crystal meth," Mercey said. "You can see the effects on people."

Crystal meth is a chemical compound which can be a variety of colours
and have differing textures. The effects of the drug are similar to
those experienced through cocaine use and include an increased heart
rate and hallucinations. Users typically snort, smoke or inject the
drug, as injesting it will delay the effects.

Meth costs approximately $80 per gram, roughly $20 cheaper than
cocaine, but it is produced from entirely man-made products, and can
be much more damaging to your long term health.

"You don't come off this addiction," Mercey said. "It's long term
effects are permanent."

In addition to mental problems, meth addicts suffer from rotting
teeth, weight loss, increased blood pressure and they often suffer
open sores after scratching at their own skin. The drug is also
psychologically damaging, causing depression, mood swings, paranoia
and unexplained violent outbursts.

"You can notice changes in the appearance of a regular user in only
three to four months," said Mercey. "There is a noticeable difference
in the faces of addicts. The drug basically takes your life."

Meth labs are usually dirty and producing the drug is quite dangerous.
If the active ingredient is difficult to find, meth makers will often
use household products like Drano to recreate the effects. Harmful
chemicals including ether and lithium are also used in the creation of
meth and Mercey said educating youth on the harmful ingredients of the
drug is an important step in combatting its use.

"Kids don't worry about how the drugs are made, and they don't realize
there is no quality control," he said. "One batch could be fine, and
then you take another and it's three times as potent."

Mercey said the drug has not become a major issue in Kincardine, but
it is used regularly in Walkerton and other Bruce county towns. Most
young people begin using it to escape the pressures of daily life, or
a bad home situation. Young girls often use the drug as a form of
weight loss.

In order to combat the growing popularity of the drug, the OPP
initiated Project Roller, targeting drug trafficking and developed a
special drug enforcement officer who works with the drug enforcement
sector in Mount Forest. This position, along with a drug officer who
works in area high schools has led to numerous drug-related arrests.

"The school officer has resulted in at least two arrests off school
property," Mercey said. "Altogether, we've made significant progress
in getting people into the courts and keeping the drug off the street."

The police focus on crystal meth has shown positive results in the
area, but other drugs are prevalent within Kincardine. Marijuana,
alcohol and cocaine are commonly used and ecstacy is available but the
level of drug use in Kincardine is consistent with most towns in Ontario.

"I think the drug problem here is no worse than in any other area,"
Mercey said. "Drugs have always been a problem, the issue just gets
more attention at certain times."

While drug use has remained consistently low, recent drug busts have
shown a fair amount of grow operations in the area. Mercey said groups
from large cities buy rural farm land for growing large amounts of
marijuana. The dealers think the plant can be easily concealed, but
often under estimate the curiosity of local farmers.

"They think since there is less population, things can be hidden," he
said. "But people don't realize it's such a tight-knit community and
farmers notice quite quickly when something is going on."

In recent years, a crackdown on drug manufacturing rings and users has
kept drugs in the area to a minimum. While police will remain
vigilant, Mercey thinks education programs and parental support has
kept most dangerous drugs away from Kincardine's youth.

"Fewer kids are being exposed to drugs today because parents are more
protective of their kids than they were 30 years ago," he said. "Kids
always want to try new things, but the majority of them are getting
away from it."
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