Pubdate: Tue, 26 Aug 2014
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Page: A1
Copyright: 2014 Metro Canada
Author: Leah Germain


Party Drug. Project Offers Rapid Result For Drug Make-Up

After a summer riddled with deaths and overdoses linked to a popular
party drug, University of Alberta researchers are hoping to offer
local law enforcement rapid results on what the drugs are being laced

According to the U of A's Dr. Kristopher Wells, recreational drugs,
including ecstasy and MDMA, are not only an ongoing concern in
Edmonton, but across the country.

"What young people don't realize is that these aren't pure
substances," said Wells. "They're often cut or mixed with very toxic
substances that the body can't process and they have different effects
on different people."

Earlier this month, a 24-year-old Leduc woman died of an overdose at a
music festival in B.C., while two Ontario festival-goers reportedly
died after taking "party-drug" pills at a Toronto music festival.

"It's a shame so many young people are putting themselves at risk,"
said Dr. Alan Hudson, a U of A pharmacologist and one of the
researchers behind the rapid testing project.

The idea to offer rapid analysis to law enforcement was first
suggested over two years ago, said Hudson, noting researchers have
been unable to secure funding for the initiative.

Hudson explained the project would analyze drug samples collected by
EPS members in order to keep an eye on what's available on city streets.

"We're hoping to do it in a very rapid fashion," Hudson

While the data collected through the analysis would also help with
emergency response when people overdose, the researchers have yet to
launched the project because of funding.

Currently, drugs seized in the city by police, including members of
Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, are sent to Vancouver for a
more thorough analysis completed by Health Canada.

Insp. Darcy Strang said it would be handy to have more local testing
for seized drugs.

"It used to be (done) in Edmonton, it used to be a lot faster
actually, but now we have to have it sent off to Vancouver to have it
tested there," he said.

Strang noted ALERT has witnessed an increase of MDMA and other
party-related drugs on city streets, noting that in 2013 the agency
seized almost double of these drugs compared with 2012.  
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