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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Ecstasy Death Toll Hits Seven
Title:CN AB: Ecstasy Death Toll Hits Seven
Published On:2012-01-31
Source:Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-02-02 06:01:14

PMMA Was In Street Drug

As tests link a seventh Calgary death to ecstasy made with a toxic
additive, provincial officials said Monday there is no "quick fix" to
the recent spate of fatal overdoses connected to the street drug.

Toxicology results revealed by police Monday indicated the death of
Cody Gorlick, 23, at the SAIT residence on Jan. 21 involved ecstasy
made with paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA).

Two more overdose deaths, including one in the city's northeast on
the weekend and one in Nanton last week, have not been confirmed as
ecstasy-related by police.

The addition of PMMA makes ecstasy far more potent and local
authorities are linking its recent appearance in the Calgary area
with several recent overdose deaths, including Gorlick's.

It's been seven days since Deborah Gorlick cremated her son, but the
news Monday that his death has been linked to a particularly toxic
supply of ecstasy brought no closure.

"Now we know it was poison," Gorlick said. "I hope the people making
it are scared. They've got to catch these people."

Gorlick said she has been contacted by other families of overdose
victims and while she isn't convinced her son deliberately took the
drug, she said there is comfort in the companionship of others who
have suffered a similar loss.

"In a way, the news doesn't change anything. I'm going to miss him
for the rest of my life. There is a big hole in our family," Gorlick said.

Calgary police continue to probe whether PMMA was involved in two
drug-related cases on the weekend.

A 37-year-old man died and a man and woman went to hospital after
police and paramedics were called to a home on Falsby Place N.E. on
Sunday morning.

On Saturday two women in their 20s from Edmonton went to hospital
after consuming what they believed was ecstasy.

Two other deaths in the Calgary area since last summer have been
linked to ecstasy, while authorities in B.C. believe at least five
deaths in that province involve PMMA.

Although PMMA has prompted police and health officials to step up
their warnings about the dangers of ecstasy, a senior officer said
taking the drug in any form, from any source, is unsafe. "Let's not
sugar-coat this. It's very simple: taking ecstasy is very
risky," Supt. Kevan Stuart said. "You're playing Russian roulette."

Monday Justice Minister Verlyn Olson was asked if the province will
be involved in some kind of response to the deaths, including the
possibility of starting a program allowing people to bring in their
ecstasy without facing a criminal charge.

Olson said a recent meeting with other provincial justice ministers
showed that everyone in Canada is dealing with the problem of gangs and drugs.

"We're all looking for effective means of dealing with them," he
said. "I think there is a growing awareness about how prevention and
early intervention and so on is a huge part of the answer.

"Some of these things, they're not quick fixes where you are going to
come up with a law or a check that's going to solve the problem in
the short term," Olson said.

Ecstasy can come as a powder, be put into capsules or pressed into pills.

Drug investigators said powdered ecstasy has been consistently found
in the recent PMMA-related cases - but that doesn't mean pills or
capsules don't also contain the highly toxic additive.

"It's not one type of ecstasy," said Staff Sgt. Mike Bossley of the
drug unit. The ecstasy that police have found in the fatal cases so
far hasn't provided any clues about its source, Bossley added.

Drug investigators arrested a man over the weekend and seized a small
amount of cocaine and ecstasy, but Bossley said there's no indication
the drug had PMMA.

Although police are encountering ecstasy more often recently, Bossley
said it's difficult to know if there is more of it on the streets.

Police say ecstasy has broadened beyond its origins as a drug taken
mainly by younger people at all-night dance parties known as raves.

"We have people 30 to 40 years of age who are taking this who should
know better - they do know better," Stuart said.
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