column was published in the
Shore News on
June 2, 1999)
concerns hit N. Shore
By Leo Knight
from the e-mail messages I received after last week's column on
crack cocaine available in high schools, it seems many people
are afraid of the potential problems and just as many are
unaware of the dangers to their children.
depicted last week, the incident involving a threat with a
handgun over a crack debt at Terry Fox secondary in Coquitlam,
should bring home to all of us that the crack problem is no
longer unique to the Downtown Eastside.
cocaine is made from powdered cocaine. It is made by mixing
powdered cocaine with a substance, usually something as simple
as baking soda, which draws all the additives or "cut"
from the powdered cocaine. This is done by heating the mixture
resulting in a solidified slab or "cookie" of
virtually pure cocaine.
dried, the cookie is cut up into small pieces about the size of
a chocolate chip. These pieces are about an eighth of a gram and
sell for $20.
crack dealers go one step further and cut the "twenty"
in half. These smaller pieces are known as "dimes" and
sell for $10 each. They are readily available anywhere on the
Downtown Eastside and increasingly more and more available in
the bedroom communities of the Lower Mainland.
cocaine is more addictive than powdered cocaine because of its
purity and the method of ingestion. Crack must be smoked and
cannot be injected or snorted. Many crack uses say they were
addicted to it after the first time they smoked it.
cocaine is responsible for much of the crime committed today.
Murder, robbery, auto theft, burglary, shoplifting, you name it
and the "crackheads" do it.
initial short-lived euphoria of a drug as powerful as crack is
followed by a "crash." This involves anxiety,
depression, irritability, extreme fatigue and often paranoia. An
intense craving for more develops. Hence the easily cultivated
addiction to the drug.
users become compulsive and repetitive in their behaviour. Often
tactile hallucinations can occur such as insects crawling
beneath the skin. This may result in the addict literally
tearing away at his or her flesh trying in vain to get the bugs
out. It is very ugly to see.
easily achieved addiction of crack users is the primary reason
for its rapid spread throughout the U.S. over the past 10 or so
years and now across Canada. The dealers have a built-in return
clientele. The drug is cheap and readily available.
told you last week that North Shore school trustee and Vancouver
Police Staff Sergeant Doug Mackay-Dunn said VPD officers have
checked North Shore teens hanging around known crack corners in
few days ago, North Vancouver RCMP executed a search warrant on
a crack house in Lynn Valley. Apart from the drugs and money
seized, the Mounties recovered six van loads of suspected stolen
property. No, that's not a typo. From one crack house, they got
six van loads.
no doubt that crack cocaine has come to the North Shore. Scared
yet? There's more.
insidious as all this is, the worst part is that crack dealers
target young people and especially young girls.
the anti-drug rally hosted by MP Randy White held last week in
Abbotsford, Mackay-Dunn told the 3,000 or so assembled concerned
parents the story of Mandy Blakemore. While tragic, Mandy's
story is not, by any stretch of the imagination, unique.
was 17 when her parents were killed in a car accident. Left
vulnerable by the tragedy, the pretty young girl was a magnet
for the predatory pimps and crack dealers. Once addicted, she
had to work to feed her habit by selling her body, in the
process losing her self-respect as well as her innocence.
ravages of crack took her looks and within a short while she was
put out onto the streets of the Downtown Eastside. From high
school in Courtney to hooking on the skids in two short years.
picks up the story. "Last summer, two of my officers spoke
with Mandy as she sat in the north lane of the 100 block of East
Hastings surrounded by a pile of garbage.
wanted to keep her only possession of value -- her crack
also told the officers she wanted to die. A few days later, she
got her wish," said Mackay-Dunn. "She died of heart
failure brought on by drug abuse, crack."
post mortem revealed she was infected with Hepatitis, HIV and a
host of other diseases. Mandy Blakemore was 23 years old when
to Mackay-Dunn, she had tried to get help for her addiction a
few times. Her sister did everything she could to assist and
support her. Unfortunately, there are only 14 drug re-hab beds
in the whole province and over 20,000 addicts. There was no help
Mackay-Dunn, "Mandy could have been saved. She was allowed
to die a terrible death."
government cares more for sea beds than re-hab beds,"
does all this leave us?
is creeping into our neighbourhoods and our schools.
and teachers need to be exceptionally vigilant. Principals and
school boards must get their collective heads out of the sand
and admit the problem exists and do everything they can to
combat the ravages of crack.
government needs to refocus its priorities in the way the war on
drugs is being waged. It is simply not acceptable to have only
14 re-hab beds in this province.
is it acceptable for the federal government to withhold funding
for the RCMP so that detachments and squads who are at the sharp
end of the war are being left shorthanded and bereft of the
manpower and resources to do the job that needs to be done.
Isn't the very future of our children worth it?