Pubdate: Wed, 15 Feb 2017
Source: Rocky Mountain Goat News, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Rocky Mountain Goat
Author: Evan Matthews
Referenced: VCTV:


When asked if fentanyl is the now biggest reason to fear recreational
drugs, Valemount RCMP Officer, Chris Gallant said, "To answer the
question simply, yes."

The Valemount Secondary School hosted a fentanyl forum to educate
residents on what fentanyl is, what an overdose looks like and how to
reverse the effects of an overdose. A similar presentation was given
to students earlier in the day.

Principal Dan Kenkel emceed the forum and the panel consisted of the
B.C. Ambulance Service's (BCAS), Dakota Stone, B.C. Emergency Health
Services' (BCEHS) Community Paramedic, Jasmin Gasser, Northern Health
Mental Health and Addictions Counselor, Heather Whalen, Northern
Health Community Health Nurse, Bernita Nesjan, and RCMP Officer, Chris

Fentanyl is a man-made synthetic opioid, which means the drug is made
in a lab, but engages the same receptors in the brain as other
significant painkillers such as oxycodone, morphine and heroine. RCMP
says much of the fentanyl in Canada is coming from unregulated labs in

Over the last year, traces of fentanyl have been found in a variety of
street drugs including cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), oxycontin and heroin,
Gallant said, but he added RCMP now have reason to believe pot isn't
safe either.

"I've heard people say, 'Oh well, it is just pot'," said

In November, Vancouver Police Department Constable, Brian Monague,
told the CBC that VPD had not seized fentanyl-laced marijuana, though
he noted he could not speak for other police departments.

In the same month, the RCMP issued a press release stating the
organization had reason to believe "that there is marijuana available
for sale in Masset that is laced with fentanyl."

Masset, B.C. is located on Graham Island - one of the 150 islands
making up the archipelago of Haida Gwaii.

However, RCMP Media Relations Officer, Madonna Saunderson, said RCMP
has not actually seized fentanyl-laced marijuana to date. Saunderson
would not elaborate as to what reason the RCMP believes fentanyl-laced
pot is for sale is Masset.

The problem with fentanyl is many people are recreationally ingesting
drugs like ecstasy, MDMA, cocaine, heroine or oxycodone, all of which
have the potential to be laced or cut with fentanyl unbeknownst to the

Dosage is an issue, as most drug users have no way of knowing how much
fentanyl they're ingesting.

The drug - which is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin or morphine -
has been an epidemic sweeping much of the lower mainland, as well as
many other major Canadian centres.

Fentanyl started popping up in 2015 but became a true crisis 2016, as
there were roughly 800 overdose deaths reported in the province by
year's end - most of which were in the lower mainland.

"Overdose calls used to be the scariest calls to take because usually
there is more going on than just an overdose," said Dakota Stone, who
was born in Valemount, but now works in the lower mainland as a
dispatcher in a B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS) Dispatch Operations Center.

Stone says the patient's environment is often chaotic.

"Often there are other people in the room who are also high on drugs,
yelling at their friend, but yelling won't wake them up," he said.

There has since been one confirmed fentanyl overdose in Valemount, and
the person fully recovered, according to RCMP.

"We don't have a drug problem in Valemount," said RCMP Officer

"But drugs do exist here," he said, noting that because Valemount is
on a major highway corridor, some drugs stay in town while others don't.

Though a scary topic, the fentanyl forum isn't intended to instill
fear in the community, Kenkel says, but rather to be proactive in
educating the community on what fentanyl is, what an overdose looks
like, and how to reverse the effects.

Naloxone kits reverse the effects of fentanyl and other opioids, and
are now carried by all first responders in the province.

Local businesses have asked about having naloxone kits

"It's definitely the direction we want to be heading," says

The panel's presentation is available on VCTV.
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