Pubdate: Wed, 21 May 2008
Source: Southern Gazette, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2008 Transcontinental Media
Author: Paul Herridge


Sergeant Wayne Edgecombe, of the Burin Peninsula District RCMP
Detachment, acknowledged cocaine use in rural Newfoundland was a
rarity two decades ago.

Not anymore.

Since the oil boom in Alberta exploded a couple of years ago, and
people from this province began regularly travelling back and forth on
shift rotations, the situation has changed dramatically.

Cocaine has joined marijuana as the drug of choice in Newfoundland and
Labrador, some might say even overtaken.

Yes, even on the Burin Peninsula.

Sgt. Edgecombe indicated "Crack cocaine and coke are the drugs of
choice in Fort McMurray and these places, and some of it seems to be
filtering back here.

"Coke has always been a big problem in St. John's, but it seems to be
sneaking out of town and spreading all over. I mean I've heard
comments in this area that it's easier to get cocaine than marijuana.
So, there you go. It's becoming a pretty big problem here."

More Accessible

Sgt. Bill Dwyer, co-ordinator of the RCMP's Drug Awareness Service for
Newfoundland, explained frequent movement between people working in
Alberta and living in this province, and the money they earn, has made
the so-called 'hard core' drugs more accessible.

"It's an issue with some of the harder drugs that are being abused out
there in some of the work camps in Alberta.

"Some of these drugs that we were not really seeing here as much -
things like heroin and what not - certainly these drugs are now being
exposed to the people here in Newfoundland because of that." Sgt.
Dwyer claimed the increase in cocaine use has not only affected
adults, but youth as well.

He suggested recent student drug use surveys have revealed young
people trying substances, like cocaine and ecstasy, have increased
from around two per cent to more than seven.

He added the fact cocaine and ecstasy is now often mixed with
methamphetamine isn't helping matters.

Sgt. Dwyer noted some recent supposed ecstasy seizures turned out not
to be the drug at all, but 100 per cent meth instead. He attributed
methamphetamines of a highly addictive nature to some of the increase.

"Basically, all the ecstasy has amounts of methamphetamine in there.
Some of them are trace and some of them, like I said, they're seizing
100 per cent meth. It's just in a tablet form, that's all." Sgt. Dwyer
said there's a difference between methamphetamine and the even more
addictive crystal methamphetamine, which is smoked. He admitted though
there have been few known instances of crystal meth use thus far in
the province.

"It is here, don't get me wrong, but we're not making a lot of
seizures, and we're doing a lot of education efforts in relation to
that and trying to discourage use and inform youth and parent groups
about the dangers of crystal meth and how addictive this drug is."
'Scary Stuff'

Sgt. Edgecombe acknowledged the arrival of meth and crystal meth in
the area is a big concern. So far, they haven't seized any meth or
crack cocaine on the peninsula, but there have been ecstasy seizures.

"Crystal meth is a different drug. It's cheap. It's extremely
addictive and that's the big problem. It has a lot of major physical,
psychological and basically, community effects, after that.

"I've heard statistics that show if a person tried crystal
methamphetamine one time there's a 76 per cent chance they'll become
addicted to it. If they try it a second time that percentage goes up
to almost 98 per cent. So, it's pretty scary stuff."

There have been a number of seizures involving cocaine and marijuana
in the region in recent months - mainly the result of vehicle checks.

"We're always actively enforcing the Controlled Drugs and Substances
Act and we have a number of ways of doing that, without getting too
technical, and of course, we continue our educational programs in the

Sgt. Edgecombe acknowledged education isn't always straightforward
either, pointing out sometimes you just end up making youth more curious.

"We're always struggling with that, but that's the way it goes I guess."
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