Pubdate: Sat, 25 Jan 2014
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014, Barrie Examiner
Author: Miriam King


Area police agencies say they are seeing troubling hike in
pharmaceutical drug abuse

Area police forces continue to bust marijuana smokers and
distributors, but an increase in chemical and pharmaceutical abuse is
troubling, they say.

Whether it's crack cocaine, powder cocaine, oxycodone and
methamphetamines, such as ecstasy, South Simcoe police Const. Kai
Johnston has seen a rise in the drug culture over the past five years.

A member of the drug and street crimes unit, Johnston described drug
trends at the Jan. 20 Bradford West Gwillimbury-Innisfil Police
Services Board meeting Monday night.

"Our major drug in South Simcoe is cocaine," Johnston said, of both
the powder and crack cocaine version of the drug. But Oxycodone is a
close second, and may pose an even greater human health risk.

Cocaine is mentally but not physically addictive but Oxycodone - sold
as Percocet, Oxycocet or OxyContin - is an opioid that is both
mentally and physically addictive, he said. It's also relatively
cheap, readily available and one of the most prescribed pain
medications, despite its addictive qualities.

With the drug problems of York Region and the GTA just a few
kilometres down the road, methamphetamines are also becoming a concern
in this area.

When South Simcoe police responded to a vehicle in a ditch, on 5
Sideroad at the 5th Line of Innisfil in November 2012, they discovered
not only a stolen vehicle, but one that had been transformed into a
mobile meth lab.

The vehicle was filled with bags of chemicals "all legal, all readily
available" at any hardware store, Johnston said, including acetone,
bath salts and over-the-counter medications containing ephedrine and

Johnston described it as a "one-pot method, shake-and-bake lab" used
to make crystal meth, the first such lab found in Ontario.

"We don't see a lot of it. It's starting to invade York. It's coming
this way. Make no mistake," he said.

The highly toxic chemicals, the highly flammable nature of the
materials and the process, create a hazard for local communities, he

"There's been one (incident) in Hamilton, in Wingham, it blew up, and
caused a big fire," Johnston said, adding the air is toxic and the
chemicals flammable around the labs.

Johnston said there has also been a rise in the use of MDMA (or Molly,
another form of methamphetamines), associated with the electronic
dance music scene.

Sgt. Dave Luce, supervisor of the Barrie police street crime unit,
said while there are meth busts in the city, cocaine and other
chemical drug use is more disconcerting.

"We're not noticing a dramatic increase (in meth). It is present but
not prevalent," he said. "We are starting to see some methamphetamines
but we're most concerned with prescription drugs like Fentanyl,
Oxycodone and morphine as well as crack and powder cocaine.

"We're starting to see heroin. It's not a major problem but it's
here," he added.

Barrie police also come across MDMA, he said.

"None of our clubs up here really cater to that group. The electronic
dance music club is more of a Toronto thing," Luce said. "It certainly
is everywhere but it's not solely confined to that culture." 
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