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.