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Account of potentially deadly meth sale sounds alarm bells in Pangnirtung

Pangnirtung's mayor and the police are encouraging residents to provide any information they have to the RCMP relating to the sale of meth in their community. Psychonaught/Wikimedia Commons image

A former police officer is warning residents of Pangnirtung that meth is being dealt in their community, and he says the drug almost killed a young relative.

"I am writing this to plead with you that if the people selling these drugs are not stopped right away that the situation is going to get really bad. If you thought drinking was bad, if you thought coke and speed were bad – just wait until you see the effects of meth will do to the community. It is destroying whole communities in the south," David Lawson wrote on the Pangnirtung News and Announcements Facebook page on Monday night.

"It's one of the cheapest drugs out there but it's also the hardest drug to hit the body and mind and one of the hardest drugs to treat once you are hooked... I plead with you to stop this as this, where (a) young person almost died will only be the beginning," Lawson stated.

Pangnirtung Mayor Eric Lawlor also expressed his concern about the situation.

"It was shocking to hear," he said. "This is concerning because it's one of the harder drugs that has actually shown up. The drug situation seems to be kind of getting worse, a little bit. We're starting to see a little bit more harder and harder things up here."

Although the Pangnirtung RCMP has not heard directly from individuals reporting that the illegal drug is circulating, officers have been "working closely with partners in the community on how to address concerns this week," the police force stated.

Lawlor encourages Panniqtuumiut to cooperate with the Mounties in addressing this problem.

"The RCMP can't do it just on their own. They need information before they can really act... they need community members speaking up a little bit more," he said.

The police didn't have immediate statistics specific to meth charges in Nunavut, but said the drug has been seized in the territory in the past.

"Unfortunately Nunavut is not immune to synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines," the RCMP stated. "There are times when we suspect individuals may be under the influence of synthetic drugs because they are exhibiting symptoms that are different than being under the influence of alcohol... (such as) increased heart rate and blood pressure, elevated body temperature and paranoia. Some users may experience overdose symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pains and convulsion, sending them into medical distress requiring immediate medical attention."

Methamphetamine can be trafficked in the form of crystals, powder and tablets. The drug can have "dangerous and unpredictable, short-term mental and physical effects" lasting eight to 24 hours, according to Health Canada.

Some meth users experience a "temporary rush of well-being" or a state of euphoria, but there are other possible side effects that are much less pleasant, particularly for binge and long-term users, such as anxiety, restlessness, hallucinations, aggression and "erratic or bizarre thought patterns," Health Canada states, adding that heart attacks and strokes have been known to occur among some meth users.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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