moved that Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to a bill designed to recover our youth, to deliver a greater sense of peace and order to our communities, and to tackle a major interest of organized crime, all things that would seem especially timely for the member of Parliament who represents the riding which will host many of the Olympic and Paralympic games in the year to come.
The bill which I am introducing, Bill C-475, is a bill designed to tackle the procurement of precursors for the production of methamphetamines and amphetamines, specifically crystal meth and ecstasy. These are drugs which have become known as a scourge in our community, drugs which have affected Canadians from coast to coast, and which in fact have special relevance to the youth of our country.
A report of the United Nations that was tabled this very year underlined a link between crystal meth and suicide among indigenous youth in Canada. A sample of street youth aged 14 through 30, surveyed in Vancouver, found that 71% had tried amphetamine-type stimulants and 57% had used them more than 10 times.
The most serious health implications of amphetamine and methamphetamine resulting from chronic use are dependence, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and drug use, and a phenomenon known as amphetamine or methamphetamine psychosis. The latter is a mental condition similar to episodes of schizophrenia, according to the United Nations report.
We have also discovered that these drugs affect a huge variety of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is shocking how quickly stories have come in, in the last few weeks, since I introduced this bill, which highlight the effect of the drugs on persons and families in the riding I represent, in my home province of British Columbia, and across Canada.
Too many of our young, healthy Canadians are losing the battle against these awful drugs, both of which are made from many easily accessible materials. These drugs have had a wide-ranging and harmful effect on Canadian communities, leaving no one untouched by their effects. The damage has been staggering and our fight against these drugs carries on today.
The trauma experienced by users includes great physical, psychological and emotional harm. Not only does amphetamine-type stimulant use affect those who consume it, but also the families and communities of the user. It is unfortunate that there are so many sad stories of otherwise young and healthy individuals who have had their lives affected for the worse by these drugs. Some have been brave enough to share their struggles with the use of these drugs and I applaud their courage to come forward and contribute their voices and stories to this important fight.
It is important to take a moment and listen to the voices of some of these individuals, voices of Canadians in my riding and right across Canada. One young man, whom I will call Nick so as to protect his identity, is a 21-year-old in treatment for ecstasy and crystal meth addition in B.C. This is what Nick had to say, “One of the worst aspects is long-term depression. I have been depressed for months and need to continue using anti-depressants. While using I had huge mood swings. I felt rage”.
Another recovering addict spoke of the effects suffered from long-term use. She said, “I am a 29 year old and have been using these drugs for over 15 years. The damage it has been done to my mind, body and soul is irreparable. The getting and using of drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and crystal meth is socially acceptable and must stop. During my addiction, I have had three suicide attempts, car accidents, psych ward visits, five rehabs and extreme psychosis. Those were all caused by the use of drugs, not the person I am today. I am trying to clean up my life physically and emotionally”.
To that young woman, I offer my encouragement and congratulations.
These are just two of the needlessly large number of former addicts who have experienced first-hand the devastation of these drugs. In addition to affecting some of the most vulnerable in our community, such as street youth, these drugs can bring even the most young and healthy of our country to their knees.
The list of side effects of these drugs is sobering. To begin, though ecstasy might seem like a harmless party drug to some, one that is marketed as such through colourful pills and cheerful designs such as happy faces or hearts, police have found that a significant amount of ecstasy that has been seized from the streets is laced with more dangerous drugs, such as crystal meth. It is important to remember that it is possible to overdose from ecstasy, a risk even graver as these drugs are distributed on the streets or in clubs and not regulated.
What this means is that youth in our country are consuming these drugs blindly, unaware of what might be in them and how much of the drug they might be consuming.
Side effects of crystal meth are similarly worrisome. A position paper on methamphetamines produced in Australia noted that methamphetamine psychosis is perhaps the most concerning aspect of the current meth situation. The report stated that methamphetamine use had often been associated with violent crime and the drug had a strong reputation for inducing violent behaviour. These are just a few of the side effects of the drug, but it is crucial to highlight the addictiveness of these drugs. Allow me to quote a report produced by the Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General in my home province of British Columbia:
Why not just quit using? A powerful stimulant, meth alters the brain's production of dopamine. The drug produces an initial positive pleasurable physical reaction by increasing the levels of dopamine, leaving a person depressed as the effects of the drug wear off. The user then requires more of the drug to return to normal. This “binge and crash” pattern leads to loss of control over the drug and addiction.
More must be said about the dangerous aspects of the production as well as the use of this drug. There is no regulation guiding the production of illegal chemical drugs, meaning that there is no way to control the quality of the substances produced. Unlike other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, the production of crystal meth and ecstasy depends almost exclusively on materials that are available domestically.
Furthermore, crystal meth and ecstasy can be produced in almost any environment with relatively few ingredients and easily obtainable tools. The labs in which they are made are often located in basements and other small spaces, making them difficult to trace. In fact, a report produced by Carleton University in 2004 said the following:
Versatility is the term that best defines methamphetamine production. Clandestine laboratories have been found in sites as diverse as private residences, rental homes, motel rooms, dorm rooms, garages, campgrounds, moving vans, trunks of cars, storage facilities,--
Though large scale industrial production of these drugs is increasing, the vast amount of crystal meth and ecstasy are produced in these small kitchen-like labs as outlined in the report to which I just referred.
It is troubling that these drugs have negatively affected the lives of Canadians all over the country, especially our youth, but the effect goes beyond our borders, tarnishing Canada's reputation on an international level. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in its 2009 report that Canada is the single largest supplier of ecstasy to the United States, and is a significant supplier of the drug to Japan and Australia.
According to the 2009 United Nations word drug report, there is evidence that Canada-based Asian organized crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs have significantly increased the amount of methamphetamine they manufacture and export to the U.S. market and also for Oceania, and east and southeast Asia. “Canada has grown to be the most important producer of MDMA for North America, and since 2006, all ecstasy laboratories reported have been large-capacity facilities operated principally by Asian organized crime groups”, said one observer.
We have many resources, skills and commodities to export. It is unfortunate that we must now recognize that crystal meth and ecstasy are among Canada's recognized exports.
We have covered ways in which the production and consumption of these drugs negatively affects individuals, families, communities and Canada's international reputation. Yet, another reason why this fight is an important one relates to environmental concerns. The United Nations notes:
--environmental harm and costs caused by illegal laboratories and their safe removal are considerable.
The production of these drugs is an extremely toxic endeavour about which we should all be concerned. To further illustrate the problem, I return to the report by Carleton University to which I referred earlier. It said:
For each pound of manufactured methamphetamine synthesized through one of the above methods, five to seven pounds of toxic waste is produced, as well as the release of poisonous toxic gas.
I would like to take a moment to thank my colleague, the member for Peace River, for his considerable work on this bill, and his careful and tireless work in the previous session of Parliament. The member for Peace River originally introduced this bill in a slightly different form in 2007. I am honoured to be reintroducing the bill and to have him second it as we fight the battle against ecstasy and crystal meth.
I also wish to acknowledge the input of various members of the House from other parties, members whom I approached while drafting this private member's bill. To the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the member for Beauséjour, I appreciate our conversations and their insight into how we might work together in this fight against the scourge of these drugs in our country.
Additionally, both the member for Peace River and I have consulted extensively with stakeholders, such as law enforcement officials here in Ottawa and in British Columbia. We greatly appreciate their insight and wisdom into how we might make legislation that will allow them to fight these drugs more effectively. Their commitment to keeping Canadian communities safe serves as an inspiration to us in the House as we do our part to contribute to the tackling of crystal meth and ecstasy head on.
At the suggestion of law enforcement officials, the drug ecstasy was added to the bill that the member for Peace River originally introduced. These officials have noted that, in their first-hand experience, the production of crystal meth and ecstasy are often linked. I am also honoured to announce that the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police recently passed a motion in support of this bill.
Following the path taken by countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, which have introduced aggressive strategies to target one or both of these drugs, the changes that would be made by this bill to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act would outlaw the procurement of the precursors for these drugs and make it more difficult for these addictive substances to be produced. When passed, this bill will greatly hamper the clandestine type of market that has made these drugs so easily accessible to Canadian youth.
It is clear why this issue is of such great concern to constituents in the riding I represent, to members who sit in the House and to all Canadians. Crystal meth and ecstasy affect individuals who use them as well as their families and their communities. The production of crystal meth and ecstasy is feeding the appetite of criminal elements in our country. The production of these drugs also affects Canada's reputation internationally. The environmental harm caused by the production of these drugs is considerable and also factors in to the urgency to do something about their production.
By affording law enforcement officials the tools to inquire into the suspicious and voluminous acquisition of recognized precursors, suspected producers of these substances would be more vulnerable for investigation. Therefore, I believe that my colleagues in the House will join me in seeking to bring about the end of the possession, production and trafficking of the precursors of crystal meth and ecstasy. I ask all my colleagues to join me in the support of Bill C-475.