An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Chris Warkentin  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of June 14, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance or any equipment or other material that is intended for use in production of or trafficking in methamphetamine.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

December 11th, 2007 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I thank you for the opportunity to come to this committee to speak about my private member's bill, Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), as you said.

I believe that by working together we can make a difference in combatting the production and the trafficking of methamphetamine and the pain it inflicts on families and communities across our nation.

Unlike other drugs, meth does not need to be imported or grown, but it can be synthesized using components that are readily available. These two points I think are the most important. The drug can be synthesized from legal products that are readily available, and the drug can be synthesized and available for distribution in a shockingly short period of time.

Colleagues, although it is manufactured from legal substances, crystal meth is one of the most addictive and damaging of all the street drugs, and the tragic consequences and the lives it affects are unacceptable. Mr. Chair, too many of our healthy citizens are losing years of their lives to its devastation, and some are dying in the grip of the horror of this drug.

In order to frame the discussion today, I will spend a little bit of time explaining what methamphetamine is, how it impacts people in our society in a practical way, and the scope of the problem we're facing.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant. It is a derivative of a synthetic stimulant first produced in 1919. It is sold on the street under the street names of jib, crack, meth, speed, glass, fire, ice, and other names. Meth is available as a powder and it can be taken orally, snorted, or injected.

Typically, the drug is heated or vaporized and the fumes are inhaled, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream very rapidly. It takes only about eight seconds for the drug to get to a person's brain.

Crystal meth is smokable, and this makes the most potent form of the drug, and for this reason many young people tend to gravitate toward it.

Meth is relatively easy and inexpensive to make, using commonly available ingredients called precursor chemicals. The recipe for meth includes products such as over-the-counter cold medications, paint thinner, household products like drain cleaner, and agricultural chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia.

The ability to purchase these commonly available products at any Wal-Mart or Superstore, coupled with the ability to produce crystal meth virtually anywhere, makes it a dangerous combination.

These two facts speak to the limited opportunity for enforcement authorities to intervene. And while I know this bill in itself will not totally stop the production of meth, I hope that offering the authorities these additional tools can assist them in putting a stop to the production and subsequent distribution of meth.

Although meth can be produced almost anywhere, undercover super labs produce the majority of crystal meth that is sold on the streets today. These makeshift laboratories present a grave danger as extremely flammable liquids and corrosive chemicals are being used and mixed by people with no experience or expertise in handling such dangerous products. The hazards of these undercover labs are numerous. There are the problems of exposure to harsh chemicals and the potential of exposure to toxic fumes and poisonous gases during production. There have been cases of fires and explosions caused by poor equipment. There have been situations of severe burns or death from fires or explosions.

There is also danger to the first responders, such as the police, the firefighters, and the social workers who show up at the scene. And of course there is the harm to the environment from leftover precursors and used lab equipment that leave behind toxic byproducts that pollute the land, the air, and the water in places where they are spilled or where they are dumped.

These super labs require huge amounts of precursor material to produce the quantity of meth they do. By giving the authorities the tools that are outlined in my bill, there will be an additional opportunity to stop the production here in Canada.

The dangers of crystal meth go far beyond the production at the core. Let's not forget the core of this issue is people. This bill proposes a vital change to the current legislation, and it is my prayer that we will turn the tide in combatting this drug. The addictive qualities of methamphetamine make it a dangerous drug for any person to experiment with.

To quote a participant from my home province, who was involved in the consultation on this drug, “No human being should be putting fertilizer, iodine, Drano, and battery acid all mixed together with a little ephedrine into their system.” But that is what people are doing.

We need to defend our youth and our families from this harmful, life-destroying drug.

In order to put this into perspective, I think it's important that committee members understand that users of meth tend to be between the ages of 10 and 25 years old. Many users start living at home, attending school or holding down a job, but they end up living on the streets as the addiction progresses.

One frightening fact is that some children, youth, or young adults who are exposed to meth don't even know that they've been exposed to crystal meth or meth. More and more drug traffickers are mixing meth with other drugs because it is so inexpensive and it gives other drugs greater addictive qualities. In fact, I recently saw a statistic that predicted that between 70% and 75% of the drug ecstasy sold on the streets of my home province contains meth because it increases the user's demand for more.

Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug with a long-lasting high that produces an overwhelming euphoria. Those who use it are quickly addicted and experience more intense effects from prolonged use compared with other drugs. The use and abuse of meth is on the rise throughout Canada. Its prevalence is growing as dealers find new ways to target potential users and find new ways to sell their drug.

As part of my goal of reducing the harm that meth can inflict on my community, I've done a number of things, including visiting local area schools in my riding to talk about the horrors of meth. While visiting a grade 6 class I was shocked to hear students tell me of their personal awareness of this drug, as someone in their community had been trafficking meth in the form of candy “pop rocks”.

Mr. Chair, the madness has to stop.

Access to the precursors and equipment used to make this deadly drug is a significant problem. The police need legislation in order to combat the spread and the abuse of this deadly drug. The accessibility to precursors and the low cost of producing this drug impact all economic and social groups. Any person who knowingly exploits young people for financial gain needs to be pursued and dealt with aggressively. I have no tolerance for people who willingly contribute to the destructive pattern of drug abuse.

Meth users tend to be between the ages of 10 and 25. We are speaking of some of the most vulnerable in our society. These kids, these young people, are the ones who have the most to lose, the ones who are most impacted by crystal meth. It is incumbent, I believe, upon us as legislators to enact legislation that holds to account those who willingly produce, or support those who produce, this harmful substance.

I thank you, Mr. Chair, and I'd be happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability at this time.

December 11th, 2007 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Art Hanger

I'd like to call the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to order.

Would members take their seats, please.

This is Tuesday, December 11, 2007. Our orders of this day are an examination and debate on Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine).

Our private member's bill presenter will be Chris Warkentin.

Mr. Warkentin, you have the floor.

Business of the HouseOpening of the Second Session of the 39th Parliament

October 16th, 2007 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. It appears we have a few moments and to save time later I will inform members of something they are just aching to hear about now.

As hon. members know, our Standing Orders provide for the continuance of private members' business from session to session within a Parliament.

The list for the consideration of private members' business established on April 7, 2006, continues from the last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.

As such, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that were listed on the order paper during the previous session are reinstated to the order paper and shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation of the first session.

Generally speaking, in practical terms, this also means that those items on the Order of Precedence remain on the Order of Precedence or, as the case may be, are referred to committee or sent to the Senate.

However, there is one item that cannot be left on the Order of Precedence. Pursuant to Standing Order 87(1), Parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office to be put on the Order of Precedence will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices.

Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Motion M-302, is withdrawn from the Order of Precedence.

With regard to the remaining items on the order of precedence let me remind the House of the specifics since the House is scheduled to resume its daily private members' business hour starting tomorrow.

At prorogation, there were seven private members' bills originating in the House of Commons adopted at second reading and referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1:

Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;

Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;

Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;

Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;

Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights;

Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; and

Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bills deemed introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to a committee)

Furthermore, four Private Members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House:

Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171);

Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord;

Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad; and

Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identification information obtained by fraud or false pretence).

Accordingly, a message will be sent to inform the Senate that this House has adopted these four bills.

Hon. members will find at their desks an explanatory note recapitulating these remarks. The Table officers are available to answer any further questions that hon. members may have.

I trust that these measures will assist the House in understanding how private members' business will be conducted in this second session of the 39th Parliament.

(Bills deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House)

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 14th, 2007 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to support my colleague, the member for Peace River, on his great bill, Bill C-428.

Crystal meth use and production is a serious and growing problem in Canada. Unfortunately, regardless of where we are living in this great country of Canada, we are starting to see the effects of it in all of our communities.

My riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex is in southwestern Ontario. It is a rural riding, made up of small towns and mostly agriculture. Yet, as much as we have been able to control the use of it, we know that it infiltrates and it impacts our youth within our communities across the country.

As encountered in some of the United States, a rise of crystal meth use in Canada has been accompanied by an increase in related health problems and death among its users. The resulting emotional, financial and social costs are enormous.

I will look at four different areas: first, health effects; second, law enforcement; third, production; and, finally, the effect that it has on our communities.

First, the health effects of crystal, even taken in small amounts, can result in increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration and heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and hypothermia. Other effects of crystal meth abuse may include anxiety, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, cardiovascular collapse and in some cases even death.

The long term effects, because this is not only about what happens the day people take this product into their system, include paranoia, aggressiveness, extreme anorexia, memory loss, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions and serious dental problems.

A few months ago my local newspaper printed a picture of a very attractive young lady. A picture of the same lady a few years later showed the visual effects of what intense drug use had done to that beautiful woman, not only to her facial features but her teeth and all the things that go with it. It was unbelievable that it had such detrimental effects.

Also, the transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C can be a consequence of crystal meth abuse. Among abusers who inject the drug, infection with HIV and other infectious diseases is spread mainly through the use of contaminated syringes, needles and other injection equipment by more than one person.

Crystal meth abuse may worsen the progression of HIV and its consequences. Studies with meth abusers who have HIV indicate that the HIV causes greater neuronal injury and cognitive impairment compared to HIV-positive people who do not use this drug.

The intoxicating effects of crystal meth, however, whether it is injected or take in other ways, can alter judgment and inhibition and lead people to engage in unsafe and unpredictable behaviours.

The quality of life among users and dealers of crystal meth is greatly diminished. Addicts and dealers may experience dissolution of relationships, social isolation, altered personality, difficulty with academics, loss of employment, involvement in crime, drug-related psychosis and brain damage and health risk behaviours, including risky sexual encounters and declining physical fitness. Furthermore, individuals may not be motivated to seek help as meth users seemingly can create unbelievably high levels of energy and productivity.

I want to switch now for a minute about the legal part and the law enforcement of it. We continually hear police report increased levels of crime in communities where crystal meth is prevalent. We read in the paper about deaths. High speed pursuits, property crimes and identity thefts are associated with meth use. Many of these crimes are committed in pursuit of funds to sustain their consumption.

However, some crimes appear to be as a result of the state of the meth user after consuming the drug. Then once they have consumed the drug, they get involved in dangerous driving, vandalism, assault and threatening behaviour, usually against the most innocent people.

Police frequently report that the illicit drug use, trafficking and production are associated with violence and offences using firearms. Meth use is linked to an increased tendency to commit violent crimes, both because of the need to support the habit and as a result the cognitive changes that result in an individual from consuming these drugs.

Disorderly and disruptive behaviour by meth users have been a concern to communities, which report that the quality of life has decreased as the number of users increase. As noted earlier, meth users are likely to be erratic, paranoid, aggressive, brazen, energetic and then worst of all violent.

How does this stuff come about? How do we make it? What happens? Is it only these large labs? Does it happen at home? My understanding is meth recipes are, unfortunately, easy to obtain from cooks and other resources, including the Internet. There are many non-essential chemicals that can be used interchangeably to produce meth. These include acids, bases and solvents. These are all dangerous chemicals unless handled in a proper fashion.

It amazes me when I look at the bottles and containers this stuff comes in, which these cooks put together to make crystal meth, why anyone would ever want to go down that road of injecting these poisons into their bodies.

There are two different types of clandestine drug labs. One is the economic based labs or the super labs which are large, highly organized and can produce a few hundred grams to 50 kilograms in one production cycle. The other type is the small labs often referred to, as we do with many things, as the mom and pop type or the addiction based labs. These labs generally manufacture small amounts, one to four ounces of meth per production cycle. These operators typically produce enough drugs for themselves and some of their close associates and then have enough money left over to sustain their habit.

One of the problems associated with meth labs is the difficulty in detecting where these labs are located. Therefore, the number of labs already detected in Canada may not accurately reflect the existing problem that is out there.

I will talk about our communities for a minute. Meth labs use and production also have a major social impact on our communities. They can become vulnerable to petty crime, social disorder, risk of health, increase in violence, large scale labs and drug trafficking. Meth labs also pose serious public safety and health hazards to those in and around production operations. They produce environmental hazards, toxic fumes and from to time the potential for explosions.

In wrapping up, staff and students in schools may face users with behavioural problems, classroom disruptions, absenteeism, negative peer influence and, once again, possible contamination and the stress of having insufficient resources known to handle these issues because of the drug.

I cannot say enough about my concern as a parent, and now a grandparent, of what happens when our young people and professional people get involved in this. Therefore, I thank my colleague, the member for Peace River for bringing this forward. I know each and every one of us in the House will support it.

I thank my colleague from Peace River for bringing this bill forward. I know that each and every one of us across this House will support it.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 14th, 2007 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this very timely topic and I commend the hon. member for Peace River for introducing Bill C-428. I am fully aware of the member's interest in this area and of his concern for the problems that illegal drugs inflict on Canadians.

I know the member and I have spoken about his concern about his constituency and the fact that crystal meth is something that is growing in our country and something that has to be addressed. I want to congratulate him especially for drawing the attention of the House to the complex difficulties created by methamphetamine.

We know that methamphetamine is chemically similar to amphetamine but its effects last longer and are more toxic. Methamphetamine has a similar chemical structure to that of amphetamine but it is has a stronger effect on the central nervous system. The appearance and euphoric effects vary with the method of administration but they are nearly immediate and can last for 12 hours or even more.

Novice users can obtain a high by ingesting only an eighth of a gram of methamphetamine, while a regular user ingests more to get this effect, up to 250 milligrams. On a runner binge lasting several days, the user may take multiple grams of methamphetamine.

Unlike many other drugs of abuse, methamphetamine not only affects the release of certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine, but also damages the neural tissue within the brain itself.

Methamphetamine exposure can damage the areas of the brain related to both cognition and memory. In some cases, even years after discontinuation of use, some brain functioning may not be fully restored to pre-methamphetamine levels. For this reason, methamphetamine addiction places an individual at heightened risk of long term cognitive and psychological problems, including episodes of violent behaviour, paranoia, anxiety, confusion and insomnia.

The acute effects of methamphetamine include increased heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and alertness. Methamphetamine consumption induces a strong feeling of euphoria and is highly psychologically addictive. This potent central nervous system stimulant affects the brain by acting on the mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention and responses associated with alertness or alarm conditions.

The effects of meth, such as increased attention, decreased fatigue, increased activity and decreased appetite, together with its low cost and variety of administration routes, make methamphetamine a drug of choice for street youth and partygoers.

This is very unfortunate because often young people have a misconception of the addictive nature of this very dangerous drug. Often they can get hooked on it very easily and very quickly.

It is a common belief that methamphetamine gives people super human strength. Methamphetamine users often become heavily immersed in what they are doing and are prone to violent outbreaks. Chronic methamphetamine use attacks the immune system and users are often prone to various types of infections. There are also short and long term health effects, which the parliamentary secretary talked about earlier in his speech. They include paranoia, liver damage, brain damage and depression.

The rate at which methamphetamine takes effect depends on the method of administration. Taken orally in pill form or as tea, methamphetamine takes effect in 20 to 30 minutes. When snorted, its effects can be felt in three to five minutes. Injection and inhalation by smoking produce effects more quickly, in seven to fifteen seconds. They only last for a few minutes, but are extremely pleasant to the user. The half life of methamphetamine, the time it takes for 50% of the drug to be removed from the body, is 12 hours.

Methamphetamine use has a number of impacts on users, our communities and on society generally. The quality of life among users of methamphetamine is typically greatly diminished. Furthermore, individuals may be unmotivated to seek help as methamphetamine use can create seemingly high levels of energy and productivity. Communities can become vulnerable to petty crime, social disorder, associated risks to health and increases in violence, large scale labs and drug trafficking. When a user is addicted to this drug, it not only affects the user but the families and communities around the user.

Methamphetamine production operations also pose serious public safety and health hazards to those in and around production operations. These operations can result in serious physical injury, from explosions, fires, chemical burns and toxic fumes. They produce environmental hazards, pose cleanup problems and endanger the lives and health of community residents. In addition, first responders are also placed in extraordinarily dangerous situations when responding to calls where clandestine labs exist.

The collateral damage of methamphetamine includes effects on families, school staff and students, law enforcers, fire departments, paramedics, health care practitioners, businesses and property owners. These individuals experience second-hand symptoms of methamphetamine use.

First responders may experience exposure to production byproducts, fire or explosion hazards and may be subject to the violence and aggression from addicts or frustration and stress from inadequate resources or judicial restraints preventing them from taking action.

Parents may also experience emotional and financial stress as a child goes through treatment, strain from missing work, fear, embarrassment, shame and guilt. The family may also encounter gang related crime, contamination, violence and disciplinary problems as the child continues to abuse the drug.

Staff and students in the schools may face users with behavioural problems, classroom disruption, absenteeism and negative peer influence.

There are also significant health risks and costs associated with dismantling labs and removing processing agents from these locations. Currently certain expenses are borne by the responding police services, property owners and insurers.

The bill put forward by member for Peace River proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so as to prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance, equipment or other material that is intended for use in production of or in trafficking in methamphetamine.

I support the bill. However, I note that it does not contain a specific penalty attached to the new prohibitions. We have spoken about this and I know the intent is to deal with this. The bill would be improved if it contained such a penalty. As well, the bill could impact on numerous retailers selling common articles for legitimate purposes.

I believe the bill could be improved if the criminal intent was clarified, as the member for Peace River has discussed with members on this side of the House, such that innocent or legitimate activities would not get caught.

The bill could very well provide us with further tools to counter and combat the methamphetamine problem. I urge all hon. members to support this bill.

I again thank the member for Peace River for his insightful dialogue and hard work on this bill toward ensuring that crystal meth is no longer on the streets of Canada.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 14th, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to speak to private member's Bill C-428 presented by the member of Parliament for Peace River.

Bill C-428 amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to “prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance or any equipment or other material that is intended for use in production of or trafficking in methamphetamine”.

I am supporting this bill at second reading. I am recommending to all members of the Liberal caucus to support it and vote for it at second reading in order that it may be referred to committee for further study.

It is a very short bill. The bill would make it a specific crime to produce, possess or sell substances or equipment intended for use in the production or trafficking of methamphetamine. It does so, as I mentioned, by amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is Canada's federal drug control statute.

The street name for methamphetamine, because that is essentially what we are talking about, is crystal meth. It is also called ice, crystal, glass, jib and tina, for instance. It is a chemical stimulant that creates a very strong effect on the central nervous system. I would like to give members an example.

There is a study called “Coping with Meth Lab Hazards” by Geoff Betsinger, dated November 2006. It will be presented at a national conference. A DEA study states:

Methamphetamine, like cocaine, is a potent central nervous system stimulant. It can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally. It increases the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and rate of breathing; it dilates the pupils; and [it] produces euphoria, increased alertness, a sense of increased energy, and tremors. High doses or chronic use have been associated with increased nervousness, irritability, and paranoia. Withdrawal from high doses produces severe depression. Methamphetamine can be a lethal, dangerous and unpredictable drug.

The study notes that in large doses there can be aggressive behaviour, auditory hallucinations and paranoia, with delusions and psychosis. These are frequent effects. The study states:

Abusers tend to engage in violent behaviour; mood changes are common and the abuser can change from friendly to hostile rapidly. The paranoia produced by methamphetamine use results in suspiciousness, hyperactive behavior, and dramatic mood swings.

Crystal meth is easy to produce in small, clandestine labs set up in any place from homes to hotel rooms by mixing a cocktail of about 15 chemicals that are usually easily available. The main ingredient for producing crystal meth is pseudoephedrine, a cold remedy, and it is cooked with chemicals commonly found at a hardware store, such as red phosphorus, iodine, ammonia, paint thinner, ether, Drano, and the lithium from batteries. The recipe for crystal meth is widely available on the Internet, but I will not mention the sites.

It can also be very profitable. Police say an investment of about $150 can yield up to $10,000 worth of the drug. While the manufacturing process is relatively simple, it is also toxic and dangerous. Each kilogram of crystal meth produces five to seven kilograms of chemical waste, which is often dumped down the drain or in the backyard. Another byproduct is toxic gases that often can lead to fire or explosions in the lab.

When a crystal meth lab is discovered, a special clandestine drug lab team is brought in to investigate it, as is a chemist from Health Canada who advises on the dismantling of the lab. A house that has contained a crystal meth lab needs to be decontaminated and can remain uninhabitable for months.

In fact, this study that I have mentioned talks about how “the greatest risk of long-term exposure” to crystal meth and the toxic waste byproduct is assumed by “unsuspecting inhabitants of buildings formerly used by clandestine drug laboratory operators where residual contamination may exist inside and outside the structure”.

For instance, we know that in many cases insurance companies will refuse to insure a home rented legally to individuals who established within the home a clandestine lab that resulted in damages. The decontamination will not be covered by the insurance policy even though the owners of the property had no involvement and no knowledge that these illegal activities were taking place on their property.

In Canada the problem of crystal meth production and use seems to be growing. For instance, in 1998 four clandestine crystal meth labs were seized in Canada. By 2003 that figure was up to 37. The World Health Organization says that methamphetamine, after marijuana, is the most widely used illicit drug in the world.

I would like to talk about the previous government, our Liberal government, because it did recognize the growing problem of crystal meth. In August 2005 our government increased the maximum penalties for possession, trafficking, importation, exportation and production of methamphetamine. Our Liberal government moved methamphetamine to schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs. We also added four substances used in the production of methamphetamine to the list of controlled chemicals under the precursor control regulations.

We learned at the end of May that the current minority Conservative government will be unveiling a new national drug strategy. We would hope that it will also deal with the issue of crystal meth. We do not know what its national drug strategy will be, but we hope that the Conservative government will take the issue as seriously as did the previous government.

There are a few issues surrounding the way in which Bill C-428 is drafted. While I have not had an opportunity to have extensive discussions with the member for Peace River, who presented the bill to the House, assistants in his office have assured us that he worked with the Library of Parliament and with the office of the Minister of Justice to ensure that the bill would be effective while not leading to undue criminalization.

However, there is no concrete evidence reflecting the statement. That is one of the reasons why we Liberals would support referring the bill at second reading to committee so that we can have further information and further assurances based on fact and science from the member for Peace River.

I will end by stating that the Liberals, the official opposition, do recognize the seriousness and gravity of the difficulties that crystal meth presents to our society. We also recognize the difficulties that it presents to our law enforcement and to the safety of our communities and Canadians.

That is why, as I explained several minutes previously, the Liberal government took serious action to deal with crystal meth, with its production, manufacture, trafficking, possession, et cetera, and it was also part of our national drug strategy. We would hope that it will be part of the Conservatives' national drug strategy, which they say they will be announcing shortly. We hope that after 16 months “shortly” will not be another 16 months.

We look forward to seeing all members of the House support sending the bill presented by the member for Peace River, Bill C-428, to committee at second reading.

The House resumed from May 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2007 / 6 p.m.
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Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the members will listen to what I have to say and stop shouting while a member is talking in this House. It is the ethical and polite thing to do. It is improper to shout while someone else is talking. I would ask my colleagues to settle down.

I would first like to say that the Bloc Québécois recognizes that methamphetamine use is a serious problem. We are well aware that traffic in methamphetamine poses a danger to adolescents, particularly those between 14 and 16. We are well aware of the problem. Young people are taking drugs that can have very serious consequences for their health. That is why the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-428 in principle. However, the Bloc has some concerns about how this bill fits in with the existing legislation.

The Bloc Québécois believes it would be a good idea to invite submissions from stakeholders such as police officers, front-line workers, pharmacists from Alberta and anyone else who is affected by this scourge. It is very dangerous for people to take these drugs. Certain methamphetamine derivatives are labelled as being extremely hazardous to human health. We would also like to examine further the applicability of certain measures the bill would impose, in order to answer some questions. The question we have is this: can we ask retailers to restrict access to ingredients other than over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine?

It is very easy to produce crystal meth, tina or ice. They are derivatives of methamphetamine. These substances have very serious repercussions on the health of young adolescents. Furthermore, in the United States, 12 million Americans have taken some form of this substance. Users very commonly become addicted to the drug, which has even replaced cocaine. One dose is relatively inexpensive, only $5 or $10, compared to cocaine, which is very expensive. This is why adolescents are so drawn to this euphoria-inducing substance. Some adolescents are less sensitive to the irreversible effects of the drug on their health. Young adolescents seem to think that it is like energy drinks or wake-up pills, which allow the user to stay awake for long periods. These substances are very harmful to one's health.

Thus, the Bloc Québécois will support this bill. We would like to see it studied in committee in order to be able to assess the overall problem in Canada. In the United States, in New York and Illinois, there are clandestine laboratories that produce the substance safely, but it is dangerous to the health of our children. It can also be made at home. One only has to go to the hardware store and purchase some solvent, some Drano, some lithium. All these products are available over the counter.

However, the bill goes perhaps a little too far. Can we prohibit the over-the-counter sale of certain products, such as ephedrine, which is found in cough medicine? We will see how far we want to go with this bill. Controls are used to prevent access to illicit drugs. We are talking about an explosive cocktail that can lead to illnesses such as Parkinson's disease. Tests have also been conducted on certain animals that experienced after-effects after consuming this type of substance.

If it can kill animals, imagine what it can do to human beings. People can become schizophrenic. They might even commit suicide. Some newspapers have reported several cases of suicide among 12- and 13-year-olds. Apparently, crystal meth keeps them high not for 20 minutes, but for hours and hours. Peach is also a much more concentrated derivative of these products.

The Bloc Québécois is aware of this problem. I mentioned the United States, but this is also a problem in Canada, especially in Vancouver. Our colleague who raised the subject in this House today says he is especially concerned about this issue because teenagers in his own province are using these drugs, which are freely available.

We know this problem is affecting Quebec too, in places like Rivière-du-Loup. Young people are not the only ones using, although some start as young as 12 or 13. People who use this stuff for the first time might not think that they can become addicted, and that is the problem. They do not use it just once. They use it several times and develop a strong addiction. Users want to forget reality, which is sometimes tough to cope with, or they want to get through difficult situations. For example, for people who are shy or have trouble expressing themselves, these drugs make them feel big and strong, like Superman, and they lose their inhibitions when they are high. But using has serious consequences.

This bill will probably be referred to committee if my colleagues vote for it. However, as I said, we have concerns about the practicality of this bill. We cannot restrict the sale of the products that are used to make crystal meth.

I therefore invite my colleagues to at least think about this scourge. It is a very serious problem when young people of 12 and 13 have easy access to substances that are hazardous to their health. Users are not just delinquents; often they are adolescents from good families who have been influenced by their friends, kids who use drugs because everyone in their circle is doing it.

Referring the bill to a committee would provide an opportunity to gauge the extent of the problem in different provinces where methamphetamine is freely available and where there are clandestine laboratories. That might lead to further discussion of denunciation. When we know that the problem is all around us and we have adolescents, we all have a role to play in denouncing clandestine labs.

Moreover, this drug appears to be very easy to obtain. You just have to know where to go. I will not say where, but adolescents apparently know where to go. For example, methamphetamine is very easy to come by among skateboarders.

The Bloc Québécois will initially vote in favour of this bill. As for the applicability of the whole bill, we will consider amending it and making more appropriate proposals in connection with what is already in the legislation.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved that Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, as you have mentioned, on my private member's bill, which moves to address the terrible problem of methamphetamines, or crystal meth, in many of our communities.

The devastation this drug inflicts on communities, families and others across this nation is horrific. The war is on. Quite frankly, we are losing the battle. Too many of our young, healthy citizens are losing years of their life to its devastation and some are dying in the grips of its horror.

Crystal meth is one of the biggest threats to some of our communities. Unfortunately, its popularity is increasing dramatically. Crystal meth has a hold on too many of our young citizens and we have a responsibility to do something about it.

This bill addresses the precursors of the production and trafficking of methamphetamines by amending the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This will give the police the tools they need to combat the spread and the production of this drug. This is a vital change to the current legislation. It is my prayer that this will turn the tide on the war against this drug.

However, before we go any further, let us not forget what is at the core of this issue. This issue is about people. This bill is about people. I am going to begin by talking about a heartbreaking account from my riding of the devastating consequences of this drug.

I would like to start by relating the story of a victim of this drug in my riding of Peace River. She lives near my community. For now, I am going to call her Sally. There is nothing sadder than meeting a person I once knew as a strong and upstanding member of the community who was a successful businesswoman, a mother, and a wife for 15 years, but who is now a prostitute addicted to crystal meth.

She did not become a prostitute by choice. She was forced into prostitution to pay the debts that she incurred as a meth user. Sally never set out to become a drug-addicted prostitute, but that is the way that things have lined up for her.

It only took one use, one hit, and as well, her husband was an addict. “Her husband?”, one might ask. We might have thought that Sally was the addict. She is, but this drug destroys entire families, and Sally's husband is the one who brought it home.

Who knows why she started? It seems that many partners, spouses, siblings, children, neighbours, classmates, colleagues and acquaintances cannot say no when someone close to them is a user. In a moment of weakness Sally got high and now her life is a mess. Even if she cleans up this mess, the sacrifices that she has made are already too high.

It only takes once. One use, and many people are hooked for life. The addictive qualities of methamphetamine make it a dangerous drug for any person to experiment with. To quote a participant from my home province in a consultation on this drug, “No human being should be putting fertilizer, iodine, Drano and battery acid, all mixed together with a little ephedrine, into their system”. But that is in fact what people are doing.

People who have used this drug says that it gives them an overwhelming sense of euphoria, lasting up to 24 hours. It allows them to stay awake for hours on end. Some people claim that it helps them concentrate and gives them confidence and supernatural power. Unfortunately, the reality is that this drug offers only short term satisfaction, but long term destruction.

Unlike other drugs, methamphetamines do not need to be imported or grown. They can be produced relatively easily, and unfortunately relatively cheaply, right here in our communities in undercover labs that are often hard to detect.

I would like to commend the work that was recently done in my home province of Alberta by the premier's task force on crystal meth. It was chaired by Dr. Colleen Klein and Dr. Bob Westbury. The task force oversaw the development of a province-wide holistic strategy to find solutions to stop the abuse and the negative impacts of crystal meth and methamphetamines on Alberta families, young people, communities and workplaces. I will be quoting from that report tonight, among other sources.

Unfortunately, no province in Canada is safe from crystal meth, be it Alberta or on the east coast as well. Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug with a long-lasting high and it produces a sense of overwhelming euphoria. Those who use it quickly become addicted and, compared to other drugs, experience more intense effects from prolonged use.

The use and abuse of crystal meth is on the rise throughout Canada. Its prevalence is growing as dealers find new ways to target potential users and new ways to sell this drug. It is in our communities and our schools, our families are being affected by it, and it is in our workplaces.

This drug can affect anybody. It can affect the rich, the poor, the young and the old. It affects men and women equally. However, its use unfortunately is growing most quickly among young people and groups that are already at high risk.

The menace of crystal meth in our communities from coast to coast to coast is real and acute. Our nation must fight back.

Before we understand how to fight back against crystal meth, it is important that we understand what it is. I know that one of my colleagues plans to outline this as well, so I will be brief.

I think it is important to know that methamphetamine is a stimulant. It is a derivative of a synthetic stimulant first produced in 1919. It is sold on the street as jib, crank, meth, speed, glass, fire, and ice and has other street names as well.

Meth is available as a powder. It can be taken orally, snorted or injected. Typically the drug is heated and vaporized and the fumes are inhaled, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream very rapidly. It only takes about eight seconds for the drug to enter a person's brain. Crystal meth is smokable and this makes it the most potent form of the drug. For that reason, many young people are tending to gravitate towards it.

Methamphetamines are not legally available in Canada, but the drug can be produced virtually anywhere, including in small sheds, in basements and even in mobile labs in the back of a car or a trailer. These makeshift laboratories are extremely dangerous due to the presence of highly flammable liquids and corrosive chemicals, usually mixed by people with no experience or expertise in handling such dangerous goods.

The majority of meth sold on the streets is produced in undercover super-labs, which can produce 10 pounds or more, and the mid-level labs, which produce less than nine pounds at a time. These labs are often referred to by police as clandestine labs.

While there is a large number of small scale labs, they produce only 5% of the meth available on the streets. The small scale or home based labs, often operated by meth users themselves, produce one ounce at a time, often just enough for the user with just a small amount available that they can sell to cover the cost of their addiction.

Meth is relatively easy and inexpensive to make using commonly available ingredients called precursor chemicals. The recipe for meth includes products such as over the counter cold medications, paint thinners, household products like drain cleaner, and agricultural chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia.

Relative to other drugs, crystal meth is cheap to buy, making it more accessible to children and youth. Meth is not always the drug of choice for youth addicted to drugs, but if it is available they often will choose it. Meth is referred to as the poor man's cocaine.

The effects of crystal meth on the user include: rapid, unhealthy weight loss; brain damage; insomnia and restlessness; skin sores caused by repetitive scratching and picking; major dental problems; memory problems and an inability to focus; severe depression and suicidal thoughts; strong physiological withdrawal; a greatly increased risk of HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases if the drug is injected; long term damage to nerve endings; and a risk of severe injury or death in the case of an overdose.

The damage caused by meth is rampant and far-reaching. It is not isolated to the user. It extends to family members, friends and, quite frankly, the broader community. The impacts on the users are well known and include: significant family disruption; mistrust; difficulty for family members coping with other members' addictions; conflict with schoolmates, teachers, colleagues and bosses that may result in school expulsion and/or loss of employment; and harm to the community through violence, property crimes and environmental damage.

Producing crystal meth has potentially serious and deadly consequences for the community. The hazards of meth labs include: exposure to precursor chemicals, toxic fumes, poisonous gas, fires and explosives, and property damage caused by contamination.

Crystal meth production also poses a significant risk to the environment. Production of crystal meth is dangerous for the individuals who make it, for the people who try to shut down those labs, for the innocent neighbours of the labs, for the users, and for our natural environment as well.

Because of the various chemicals used to make crystal meth and the rudimentary processes that are used, the result is a tremendous amount of toxic waste. Half a kilogram of meth produces four kilograms of toxic chemical waste. In most cases, the waste and residue from meth labs end up in the surrounding environment, leading to major environmental damage and significant cleanup costs.

The chemical waste can also cause severe damage to the ecosystem and serious health problems if it is inhaled or ingested by people or animals. Since meth labs can produce drugs in relatively short periods of time, production labs can easily materialize in unexpected places such as hotel rooms, abandoned rural buildings or anyone's home.

As quickly as a lab is constructed, the drugs can be removed, leaving the lab and the waste to be discovered by somebody who comes by later. Unfortunately, the landowners, and often the municipal districts, are left shouldering the cleanup costs. In fact, one Alberta county was recently caught off guard with a significant cleanup bill from methamphetamine waste that was dumped on county lands.

Individuals who become meth users are addicted more quickly and experience much worse effects, compared to other drugs, after prolonged use. The negative impacts kick in quickly and are devastating.

I will read for members another account of a person who was addicted to methamphetamine. That user wrote: “Meth addiction is cunning and baffling. It starts out as a harmless and fun thing to do, and then, before you know it, your whole life becomes centred on it and it gets to the point where you can't imagine life without it. But you're unable to live with it”.

We must ask this question: who is using crystal meth? This drug is particularly alarming because it is highly addictive, easily accessible and cheap to buy. These factors make it very attractive to young people.

Most meth users tend to use other drugs as well. They may also use ecstasy, marijuana or other drugs at the same time. The burden of mental and physical illness associated with drug use rises when multiple drugs are taken.

Meth users tend to between the ages of 10 and 25. However, meth is also used by adults over the age of 25. That is quite common.

Not all meth users are street youth and homeless adults. Many users start out living at home, attending school or holding down a job, but end up living on the street and in all kinds of places as the addiction progresses. Some, like Sally, are far from the typical image of a drug addict that most of us have in our minds.

One frightening fact is that some children, youth and young adults are being exposed to meth and they do not even know it. More and more drug producers are adding meth to other drugs because it is inexpensive and it gives other drugs greater addictive qualities. Police in Alberta estimate that about 70% to 75% of the ecstasy sold on the street contains methamphetamine.

The expansion of more clandestine and large scale production labs has the potential to increase availability and lower prices, which could ultimately result in a larger number of users.

Not only does meth affect individual lives, relationships and families, but it also has a dramatic impact on the communities in which it is produced and used.

Meth has followed a somewhat fractured path in invading Alberta communities. I know it is the same across the country. Some communities in the province have yet to witness the impact of meth on their streets and in their schools, but other communities have been hit hard and are being forced to join together to fight back.

It is time to get tough on crystal meth. That is what this bill does. We need to take steps to keep this drug off the streets by making it more difficult to produce and more difficult to sell. We need to get tough on drug dealers and drug producers by supporting police, law enforcement, and first responders.

Law enforcement has two important roles in addressing drug crimes: enforcing current laws and reducing the demand for drugs. It needs to have the resources and the tools to deter manufacturers and dealers while mobilizing communities, allies and young people to stop the spread of drugs and the drug culture in our communities.

Unfortunately, crystal meth is already available on our streets.

Most precursors, the chemicals necessary to make crystal meth, are available to anybody in small quantities in local stores. We also know that meth culture is quite closed and it is difficult for police to trace a dealer on the streets back to the person making the meth, known as the cook.

The government must get tough on drug producers and dealers to put an end to the pain and injury they cause children, youth, young adults, families and communities.

The devastation--

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActRoutine Proceedings

April 19th, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine).

Mr. Speaker, in communities across this country methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is becoming an urgent problem. Our children and our communities are at risk.

Unlike other drugs, crystal meth does not need to be imported or grown, but can be synthesized using components that are readily available. Crystal meth is one of the most addictive and damaging of all street drugs and the tragic consequences of the lives that it affects are unacceptable.

The province of Alberta is a desirable haven for meth labs, as are other provinces with high agricultural sectors, since hydrous ammonia is readily available because of its fertilizer component for agricultural communities. Crystal meth is finding its way into rural communities such as my own because of this situation.

This private member's bill would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide the police with more tools to deal with the growing problem of methamphetamines.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)