Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Alberta tar sands affecting drug habits in Newfoundland

Alberta oil sands affecting drug habits in Newfoundland
The Southern Gazette (Nfld)

Sergeant Wayne Edgecombe, of the Burin Peninsula District RCMP Detachment, acknowledged cocaine use in rural Newfoundland was a rarity two decades ago.
Not anymore.
Since the oil boom in Alberta exploded a couple of years ago, and people from this province began regularly travelling back and forth on shift rotations, the situation has changed dramatically.
Cocaine has joined marijuana as the drug of choice in Newfoundland and Labrador, some might say even overtaken.
Yes, even on the Burin Peninsula.
Sgt. Edgecombe indicated “Crack cocaine and coke are the drugs of choice in Fort McMurray and these places, and some of it seems to be filtering back here.
“Coke has always been a big problem in St. John’s, but it seems to be sneaking out of town and spreading all over. I mean I’ve heard comments in this area that it’s easier to get cocaine than marijuana. So, there you go. It’s becoming a pretty big problem here.”
Sgt. Bill Dwyer, co-ordinator of the RCMP’s Drug Awareness Service for Newfoundland, explained frequent movement between people working in Alberta and living in this province, and the money they earn, has made the so-called ‘hard core’ drugs more accessible.
“It’s an issue with some of the harder drugs that are being abused out there in some of the work camps in Alberta.
“Some of these drugs that we were not really seeing here as much – things like heroin and what not – certainly these drugs are now being exposed to the people here in Newfoundland because of that.”
Sgt. Dwyer claimed the increase in cocaine use has not only affected adults, but youth as well.
He suggested recent student drug use surveys have revealed young people trying substances, like cocaine and ecstasy, have increased from around two per cent to more than seven.
He added the fact cocaine and ecstasy is now often mixed with methamphetamine isn’t helping matters.
Sgt. Dwyer noted some recent supposed ecstasy seizures turned out not to be the drug at all, but 100 per cent meth instead. He attributed methamphetamines of a highly addictive nature to some of the increase.
“Basically, all the ecstasy has amounts of methamphetamine in there. Some of them are trace and some of them, like I said, they’re seizing 100 per cent meth. It’s just in a tablet form, that’s all.”
Sgt. Dwyer said there’s a difference between methamphetamine and the even more addictive crystal methamphetamine, which is smoked. He admitted though there have been few known instances of crystal meth use thus far in the province.
“It is here, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not making a lot of seizures, and we’re doing a lot of education efforts in relation to that and trying to discourage use and inform youth and parent groups about the dangers of crystal meth and how addictive this drug is.”
Sgt. Edgecombe acknowledged the arrival of meth and crystal meth in the area is a big concern. So far, they haven’t seized any meth or crack cocaine on the peninsula, but there have been ecstasy seizures.
“Crystal meth is a different drug. It’s cheap. It’s extremely addictive and that’s the big problem. It has a lot of major physical, psychological and basically, community effects, after that.
“I’ve heard statistics that show if a person tried crystal methamphetamine one time there’s a 76 per cent chance they’ll become addicted to it. If they try it a second time that percentage goes up to almost 98 per cent. So, it’s pretty scary stuff.”
There have been a number of seizures involving cocaine and marijuana in the region in recent months – mainly the result of vehicle checks.
“We’re always actively enforcing the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and we have a number of ways of doing that, without getting too technical, and of course, we continue our educational programs in the schools.”
Sgt. Edgecombe acknowledged education isn’t always straightforward either, pointing out sometimes you just end up making youth more curious.
“We’re always struggling with that, but that’s the way it goes I guess.”


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