Sea to Sky's man in Parliament is promoting a bill that has unanimous support in the House of Commons.
John Weston, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, announced April 13 that Bill C-475, an Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, specifically methamphetamines and ecstacy, has passed second reading in the House of Commons. It received support from everyone present.
Weston spoke in favour of the bill prior to second reading and said its intention was to make a new criminal offense to obtain the ingredients that go into crystal meth and ecstacy with the intent of producing the drugs.
"These two drugs are highly toxic and addictive substances against which many informed people and agencies have rallied, including several members of this House," he said in his speech. "This bill attempts to attack the problem at its source, dealing directly with the precursors of these drugs."
Weston said in an interview that he's actually the second Member to take up the bill after Chris Warkentin, Conservative MP for Peace River, Alberta, introduced it in the House. Weston said he's taken it on because the issue "clearly identifies with the needs" of the people in his riding.
"Crystal meth and other drugs are highly addictive," he said. "The production of this thing ends up with five to one in terms of toxic waste, which is an environmental hazard.
"There are dangers associated with the manufacturing of the drugs: the toxicity of the fumes, the fires that happen, there's a large array of negative social and medical consequences that come from the projection of these things, and other countries are looking askance at us as being exporters of these drugs."
The production of crystal meth can be achieved through drugs obtained over the counter at a pharmacy. Ingredients include ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, both of which are found in cold, cough and energy medicines.
Producers of the drugs can use instruments such as pill pressers to squeeze the ephedrine out of the medicine and then cook it into crystal meth using chemicals such as ammonia, lye, or even the Drano product used to unclog drains.
People can ingest crystal meth by inhaling or smoking the crystals that result from production. The drug can help increase the amount of dopamine in the brain, enhancing the user's mood by stimulating brain cells and producing feelings of euphoria that can last up to 24 hours. It can also create feelings of increased energy and wakefulness, and suppress fatigue and hunger.
The drug's side effects include irritability, nervousness and hypertension. More serious effects include seizures, extreme anxiety and hallucinations.
Ecstacy, meanwhile, a party drug that's also known as MDMA, also helps induce a sense of euphoria in its users. The drug is produced through a complicated scientific process involving hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid. It releases serotonin in the brain to induce feelings of intense happiness.
If it passes into law, Weston said his bill could bring criminal charges against anyone who acquires the ingredients of ecstacy or crystal meth.
He said a law enforcement officer will be able to pull someone over such as the driver of a truck containing the ingredients, search for a letter from someone who wants to obtain the drugs and then "stop the distribution of drugs at the source."
"I'm sure there are cases where people are buying quantities of that for good, legal reasons," he said. "They would have a defence to a charge under the law, but only the person who has acquired these precursors with the intention to procure the drug could face prosecution and conviction."
Now that it's passed second reading, the bill will have to go to the House of Commons Justice Committee. Once the committee completes hearings into the bill, it will then be passed to the Senate and then come back to the House of Commons for third reading, at which point it would be called into force by the Governor General and become law, should the House continue to support it.