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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Amnesty Eyed As Ecstasy Deaths Rise
Title:CN AB: Amnesty Eyed As Ecstasy Deaths Rise
Published On:2012-02-01
Source:Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-02-03 06:02:03

As authorities link an eighth recent death to ecstasy made with a
potent additive, police in Calgary are considering an amnesty as a
means of getting the drug off the streets.

Preliminary toxicology results released by the RCMP on Tuesday showed
the presence of paramethoxy methamphetamine (PMMA) in the system of
38-year-old Leonard Timothy, who died in Red Deer Regional Hospital on Dec. 10.

Timothy, known as "Lennie" to friends, is a father of two young daughters.

Cpl. Kathe Deheer of the Red Deer RCMP said Timothy consumed what he
believed was ecstasy, but toxicology tests showed the "dominant" drug
in his system was PMMA.

Timothy's father, Terry Timothy, said his son probably took the drug
during a night out with friends at a bar.

"They were leaving a bar and within a few minutes he started feeling
sick and it just progressed from there," he said from his home on
Prince Edward Island.

As Timothy's condition deteriorated, his wife and friends became
worried. "Things were going bad and they called an ambulance and got
him" to a hospital, Timothy's father said. "And that was it. It was
too late. His heart stopped and they couldn't get it going."

Although Timothy's funeral was held last month, the family has just
received results from toxicology tests this week.

"It's a tough one, especially some-one like him. He was so young,"
said Terry Timothy. "Here's a young guy (with) two little girls and a
wife. For that to happen, it's a shame."

While further testing is needed to confirm if PMMA ultimately caused
Timothy's death, Deheer said it was important to issue a warning
based on the preliminary findings.

"There is a public safety concern in light of the deaths in the
province," she said.

The Red Deer man's death is in addition to seven with confirmed links
to PMMA being investigated by the Calgary Police Service.

The possibility of an amnesty in Calgary came to light at a police
com-mission meeting Tuesday during a briefing by a drug investigator.

Commission member Charles Pratt asked whether police had considered a
"no questions asked, just drop it off" policy to get the drugs off the streets.

"It is something that we are discussing," Staff Sgt. Mike Bossley of
the drug unit said outside the meeting. "However, right now it's just
in the discussion phase as a far as whether or not an amnesty would
be appropriate."

There are significant legal questions to be answered, and police said
they're still deciding whether a "no questions asked" policy could be
applied to those who willingly hand over the drug.

It's unclear how a possible ecstasy amnesty in Calgary might work.

Police are, however, encouraging anyone with PMMA ecstasy related to
any of the deaths to contact police.

"Every case would depend on circumstances," Bossley said. "If that
person turning it over is somehow a suspect in our investigation,
obviously that would be a situation that I couldn't sit here and
guarantee that they would have (amnesty).

"However, they are encouraged if they have information related to any
of these investigations or anything that could support us to contact
us and let's discuss it."

PMMA is also being probed - but has not been confirmed as a factor -
in two additional drug-related deaths in southern Alberta.

The latest involved Jeff Mahon, 37, who died Sunday morning after
police and paramedics responded at a home on Falsby Place N.E.

Ambulances took Mahon's fiancee and another man to hospital. Police
said Monday both patients were in serious condition.

"I never expected them doing drugs over there," neighbour Chris Bridger said.

"It's pretty damn scary," Bridger said of Mahon's death and the
others linked to ecstasy.

The RCMP said they are still awaiting toxicology results in the death
of a Nanton man on Jan. 22.

Brandon Bodkin, 23, died in hospital in High River after paramedics
responded to a 911 call at a home in Nanton.

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

Although the spate of deaths linked to PMMA has prompted the recent
warnings, police and health officials say taking ecstasy is
inherently dangerous because it's an illegal drug being manufactured
by criminals with little regard for quality control or consistency.

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

Authorities in B.C. have also sounded the alarm about PMMA, saying
the chemical is linked to at least five deaths in that province.
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