Pubdate: Sat, 15 Oct 2016
Source: Sault Star, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Sault Star
Author: Brian Kelly
Page: 2


Lighting up a joint is still a popular choice for drug users even with
the introduction of numerous other narcotics to Sault Ste. Marie in
recent years.

Marijuana use "is probably as much, or more, than it was in the past,"
said Staff Sgt. Jody Greco, head of Sault Ste. Marie Police Service's
drug enforcement unit.

Pot is no longer the major focus of his unit's work with cocaine,
crack cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methaphetamine now present in the

"Twenty years ago we didn't have meth here in Sault Ste. Marie," said
Greco. "We didn't have a fentanyl problem. Even the oxycontin problem
wasn't here then. It was mostly marijuana, cannabis products."

As a result, the police service's focus has evolved to deal with
"harder" drugs.

Marijuana use is becoming "more socially acceptable," said Greco,
driven in part by the federal government's plans to legalize pot in

Countries such as Austria, Belgium and Netherlands have decriminalized
possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession is also legal in
several American states including Colorado and Washington.

"It's not considered the hardest drug on the street as it was once in
the past," said Greco. He's concerned public acceptance will include
harder drugs such as cocaine in the next 10 to 20 years.

"Who knows where it's going to go," said Greco.

City police see a wide range in ages being charged for possession of

Deputy Chief Sean Sparling, speaking at the last Sault Ste. Marie
Police Services Board meeting in September, said the municipal force
is seeing a "real uptake" in heroin and methaphetamine resulting in
break and enters and thefts from vehicles by persons to get cash to
purchase drugs.

City police are working with other partners, including Algoma Public
Health, to create a community drug strategy. The plan, expected to be
ready in 2017, focuses on prevention, intervention, counselling,
addiction services and enforcement.
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