Crystal meth use on the rise in the Prairies

Oct 31, 2018

There is growing concern in the prairies regarding the rise in the use of crystal meth due to fear over fentanyl deaths and it being a cheaper choice for users. Although opioid use continues to be a public-health crisis police in the prairies are saying that crystal meth use is overtaking it as the drug of choice for many.

“The meth problem is happening across the prairies, They’re seeing that opioid use is now being replaced with meth,” said Lethbridge police Chief Rob Davis “What I am hearing anecdotally is so many people were dying on the fake fentanyl that there’s a perception out there that meth is safer – still dangerous, but safer.”

The statistics for opioid use in Canada are definitely frightening with an increase from just over 3,000 deaths in 2016 to just under 4,000 deaths in 2017. However right now it seems that in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta there has been a dramatic rise in methamphetamine use.

“When I talked to my cohorts up in Prince Albert and down in Regina, they have the same things going on in their city as we are. It’s relatively cheap compared to cocaine and so it correlates with our business and residential break-ins, our petty thefts, our mail frauds, stolen autos, all that stuff.” said Det.-Sgt. Robin Wintermute from the Saskatoon police drug enforcement team.

Edmonton police have also seen the dramatic uprise of use in their city with seizures of the drug moving from 9,017 grams in 2013, to 33,112 grams in 2017.

“The trend is certainly going upwards,” said Sgt. Guy Pilon, clandestine lab coordinator in Edmonton’s organized crime division. “There’s no lack of meth on the street. What we are seeing though is kind of an anomaly in that there is some really inexpensive meth that’s being sold out there, almost half the price of the normal stuff.”

Wintermute stated that the cost of the meth on the streets in Saskatoon is anywhere from $5-$10 per gram, whereas a single hit of fentanyl could cost a user somewhere in the vicinity of $40-$60. This price differential unfortunately is making meth seem not only like a “safer” choice to users but also a more economic one.

Unfortunately for the police and health-care and addictions workers this increased used of methamphetamine is affecting crime and services. Chief Danny Smith from the Winnipeg police said that the methamphetamine use is creating a crisis for police as opioid users tend to be docile but methamphetamine users are often more aggressive and unpredictable.

“That’s the problem with it, right? Some of them have been up for days. It’s a devastating drug on the body and typically they’re not easy to deal with when they’re on the drug,” said Saskatoon’s Det.-Sgt Wintermute.