‘Systems aren’t communicating with each other’
Calgary initiative pushing police, health agencies to work more closely to combat meth crisis
Over the last five years, meth use in Calgary has ballooned to the point where it rivals the use of crack cocaine in the 1990s, according to police, which has left local services scrambling to respond to the spread of the addictive drug.
The Calgary Police Service reported on Thursday that it has seen the number of drug seizures involving meth increase sevenfold in the last five years, from 142 in 2013 to 1,043 last year.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive, illegal drug that gives users an increased sense of wellbeing, which also can lead to increased aggression, psychosis, and potential heart and brain damage. Police say they have seen a resurgence in recent years because it’s now cheaper than similar drugs.
The Calgary Police Service is trying to get a handle on the issue with a new program called the Daylight Initiative, which attempts to crack down on dealers while getting units with the department to co-ordinate better on their response to the drug. Calgary police are also trying to share information and work more closely with local health agencies and social supports.
On Thursday, Calgary police announced the first results from the initiative: a three-week, street-level investigation in December that resulted in 32 people being charged with 172 offences related to meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl trafficking.
One of the people arrested in the Daylight Initiative is Natalie Pasqua, 37, who is now facing two drug-related charges. She made headlines back in 2009 when she pleaded guilty to pushing a teenager in front of a CTrain two years earlier.
Insp. Kevin Forsen said Calgary’s problem with meth is the worst drug issue he has seen in the city since crack cocaine in the mid-1990s.
“I think what’s happened recently is the availability. It’s not a harvestable drug, so there’s no need to wait for an off-cycle,” Forsen said. “People can manufacture it, so that’s a factor. And because it’s manufactured, you can set the price. The pricing has dropped to the lowest I’ve ever seen it. So people can spend very little money and receive enough methamphetamine to be high for days.”
“THE PRICING HAS DROPPED TO THE LOWEST I’VE EVER SEEN IT.” Insp. Kevin Forsen Calgary police officer
Calgary police reported on Thursday that the number of drug seizures involving meth increase sevenfold in the last five years.