Pubdate: Sun, 05 Mar 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Mark Bonokoski
Page: 10


While it seems out of context for a career progressive, Ottawa Mayor
Jim Watson has gone law-and-order rogue in his quest to stem the
plague of fentanyl overdoses and deaths in the nation's capital.

He wants manslaughter charges laid against drug dealers if the illicit
narcotics they peddle end up causing death.

And he is not wrong in wanting this.

The time is now to stop whistling past the graveyard, and ignoring the
fact there is a fentanyl crisis that is not going away anytime soon -
aided by the fact the lethal drug, 50 to 100 times more powerful than
heroin, is being laced into counterfeit pain killers disguised as
known prescription narcotics of specific strengths.

The typical liberal response of education and prevention, which has
thus far made not a dent in the rash of fentanyl drug overdose deaths
across this country, needs some teeth added.

Manslaughter convictions would do the trick.

"(These drug dealers) are killing people," Watson said during a recent
radio interview. "We see it, certainly, in large numbers in British
Columbia, and we're seeing it here, about a couple of dozen in the
last year who have lost their lives as a result of drug overdoses.

"I think we have to send a very strong signal to those people who are
going to be engaged in illegal activity.

"They have to pay a much stiffer penalty," said Watson, a former
cabinet minister with the Ontario Liberals. "Otherwise the deterrent
is not there, and they stay in business and continue to poison kids."

The image of Ottawa as a milquetoast government town dominated by
politics, its demographic largely white and middleclass, belies the
fact that its young people are just as susceptible to experimenting
with drugs as young people anywhere.

This obviously troubles the mayor to the point that he wants the
Criminal Code tweaked to deal with drug dealers who kill.

The sad news is that some young users are dying with their first
adventure, their bodies having no tolerance for a high-strength opioid
like fentanyl, often brewed haphazardly in China's black market, which
is being mixed in with counterfeit pills marked to appear as
legitimate doses of prescribed opioids like Percocet or OxyContin

In mid-February, Ottawa drug cops arrested a dozen people for running
a distribution network for counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. They
hit six locations simultaneously and, besides finding fentanyl-laced
pills, fentanyl powder, cocaine and amphetamines, they also seized two
assault rifles, ammunition and $130,000 in cash.

"We seized thousands of pills, so the potential was there for mass
casualties," Staff-Sgt. Rick Carey told the Ottawa Sun.

"We're trying to make sure this doesn't hit the street, because it's
being accessed by youth who aren't aware of what's going on."

The allure is nonetheless strong.

As one recovering 17-year-old opioid addict said about high-powered
pain killers, rolling the dice is worth the gamble.

"You try the (Percocet or OxyContin) pill. It's wicked," he told the
Sun. "It's your party drug. Then you want to do it every day. And then
it turns into a big group of people doing it.

"The high is worth the risk. That's what people think. They think (a
fentanyl overdose) is not going to happen to them."

He then picked up a tiny pebble spotted on the floor.

"(But) half of this, if it were fentanyl, would be enough to kill
you," he said.

Bottom line, no one can become an alcoholic after one drink, but can
become very dead after one pill.

The law regarding drug dealers needs to be toughened.
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