As much as some of the power brokers in Taber claimed that the onset of the legalization of marijuana would have brought on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloping through local streets last October, it has proven for the most part to be much ado about nothing.
Instead, a problem much more sinister has cropped up, with a good chunk of Taber Police Service investigations on drug use involving crystal methamphetamine.
In 2018, trafficking charges (10) saw a 67 per cent increase, while possession charges (54) have risen dramatically by 218 per cent over 2017 figures. The drug enforcement category of ‘other’ (13) has also seen a 30 per cent rise.
Very little of that has had to do with enforcement of the town’s cannabis bylaws, with Chief Graham Abela highlighting crystal methamphetamine problems within town limits.
The Taber Police Service has reached out with an awareness campaign on social media on the impact of the drug which had led to some bizarre behaviour and violent encounters with police which inevitably will require a greater use of force in kind.
Its highly-addictive properties, due to its potent action on the brain’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals of dopamine and serotonin, make it a hard habit to break, and a habit that becomes increasingly more common as the person builds up a resistance, needing bigger and more frequent hits. That leads to a greater incidence of property crimes in feeding the habit that is increasingly becoming more expensive.
But the police service cannot do it alone in the fight of it spreading more than it already has.
Schools, parents, friends, health agencies, have to have some real and approachable conversations and campaigns with loved ones on a drug that has a long history of tearing families apart.
For there to truly be a community policing perspective, dealing with drug abuse has to go far past a punitive model, and more to a rehabilitative one that draws on many different sources.