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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Column: Our Evolving Problem With Drugs
Title:CN BC: Column: Our Evolving Problem With Drugs
Published On:2012-01-20
Source:Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-01-23 06:00:20

Going Coastal

It's a bit of a dirty topic, but more than ever the need to talk
about drugs is presenting itself.

Since the days of alcohol prohibition and through the years of
similar policies governing drug use, there have always been those who
disobey and, ultimately, those who profit.

The laws that fill our prisons with the addicted also force drug
users into back alleys away from the prying eyes of the public. It
pushes them away from helpful services that could make a difference
in their lives and society as a whole.

Surrounding this hidden culture of abuse - and it's everywhere - is
the shadowy clandestine market of drugs where astronomical profits
are made and often turned towards even darker enterprises.

The discovery of the highly toxic and obscure chemical PMMA in
ecstasy tablets making their way around B.C. and Alberta has been
both shocking and horrific for the authorities and organizations
seeking to counter this country's drug problem.

It was just as painful for the families of its victims, like that of
the 16-year-old Langley teen who became the fourth ecstasy victim of
2012 last weekend.

His death, and the death of several others in the province over the
past year, was the result of a criminal decision to lace the drug
with a highly toxic substance in order to turn a higher profit.

While a forensic chemical analyst from Health Canada told me this
week that his lab's discovery of PMMA in an ecstasy sample was the
first time they've seen it in 10 years of analysis, it's a story that
remains the same.

Dirty drugs breed corruption and line the pockets of criminals, while
addicts and experimenting youths fork over their dollars in exchange
for a dose of poison.

There is no easy solution to the problem, but slowly our society
seems to be coming to terms with its problem with drugs.

In November a coalition of former Vancouver mayors, and current mayor
Gregor Robertson, called for legalization of marijuana. While the
dangers of marijuana use have been shown to be slim to none, apart
from the age-old gateway drug arguments, the plant still serves to
fund criminal activities of all kinds.

Opening its doors in 2003, the Insite supervised injection site in
Vancouver's Downtown East Side has endured legal struggles since its
inception to continue providing its life-saving services.

By allowing the addicted to have a safe, clean, supervised
environment to take their drugs, the clinic prevents fatal overdoses
and provides a trusting avenue to treatment options, counselling and,
in some cases, recovery.

But it has taken a change in mentality, and a trip to the Supreme
Court of Canada, for society to even begin to see the advantages of
approaching drug users with a helping hand in lieu of a fist.

As the recent ecstasy deaths can surely attest, much more needs to be done.

While the solutions won't be easy and will likely require a
continuing evolution of the way we think about drugs and drug
culture, one thing remains certain.

We can continue to let the problem fester in back alleyways and
become continually corrupted by merciless criminal forces, or Canada
itself can admit that it has a drug problem and begin to own its consequences.

Is it time to hold a national intervention?
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