Thu, 08 Sep 2005
Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
2005 The Vancouver Sun
Louise Dickson, Victoria Times Colonist
(Cannabis - Canada)
Dead Girl May Have Overdosed On Crystal Methamphetamine: Officials
VICTORIA - A 13-year-old girl who died after taking what she thought
was ecstasy could have overdosed from a form of crystal
methamphetamine, health officials said Wednesday.
Mercedes-Rae Clarke, who was about to start Grade 9 at Oak Bay high
school, died in Victoria General Hospital on Tuesday, three days
after she and two friends bought and consumed a street drug.
"Her family want people to know this was not an allergic reaction,"
said Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver
Island. "It was an amphetamine. . . . she got some really bad stuff."
Stanwick is worried there may be a bad batch of ecstasy on the street
- -- a batch that will eventually kill other people.
"We're going to be keeping an eye out for this," Stanwick said.
"Because ecstasy is regularly laced with crystal meth, I wonder if
this was some sloppy chemistry. You wonder if there was one really
bad pill in the batch or if there are others that were mis-mixed."
After taking what she thought was ecstacy, Mercedes-Rae very quickly
became violently ill and ended up in hospital Saturday night. The
others girls were unharmed.
This is the third time in three weeks that people have unsuspectingly
bought drugs that have turned out to be something else, Stanwick
said. He was referring to a cluster of deaths in Vancouver where
eight street-wise addicts died from ultra-pure heroin, and to an
accident on Vancouver Island where a van crashed into a rockface.
"The people in the van had bought a white powder and fell asleep.
They could have driven off the cliff," said Stanwick. "You think you
might be buying an upper and you end up taking a downer. It's
definitely a game of roulette when you make these purchases. Your
first purchase could be your last."
Mercedes-Rae probably took a pill with a really high concentration of
the amphetamine, he said. Some people are more sensitive than others
to the effect of drugs, he explained.
"It's a matter of the wrong person getting the wrong amount of
substance and having the absolute worst outcome."
Coroner Lisa Lapointe said toxicology tests have been ordered to find
out what killed the girl.
"Her death is related to a substance she ingested," Lapointe said.
"It's devastating and you want every child to hear about it and
hopefully learn about it. Teenagers are so naive."
At Oak Bay High Wednesday afternoon, Mercedes-Rae's school friends
were sad and angry at her sudden death.
"I really wanted to get to know her better," said Caitlan Vinkle, 13.
"I found it really hard to concentrate today."
"I'm pissed off at the drug dealers," said Emily Coldwell. "She was
only 13. I don't think she knew what she was in for."
Irene Corman, assistant superintendent of the Greater Victoria School
District, said all middle school principals and vice-principals will
attend a meeting today to discuss the death and how to move forward.
A service will be held at 3:45 p.m. Friday at Central Middle School.
Victoria's Battle Against Crystal Meth:
The problem in Victoria:
Crystal meth now ranks as the city's third most-popular drug after
marijuana and cocaine.
On Wednesday, about 70 people met to launch the Crystal Meth Victoria
Society to fight the ravages of the highly addictive street drug.
One goal: Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe said quicker and better treatment
options are needed for the city's growing number of addicts.
The drug: It's cheap, and can be snorted, smoked, injected or
swallowed. It is made by cooking pseudoephedrine with a variety of
chemicals readily found at hardware stores
A bigger problem: Other drugs are often laced with crystal meth.