Concerned parents and citizens got to see the emerging illegal drug tends that have been arising in Taber at a recent information night at W.R. Myers hosted by Taber Police Service and Taber Community Against Drugs.
“There were a number of issues identified from possession of drugs or narcotics at school to trafficking of those at school. Within a short amount of time we had a series of arrests that were made for possessing or selling drugs. It has been awhile since we’ve had a forum like this, so we as the Taber police like to keep people involved in what we are doing to ensure the information and the education is there,” said David Dube, school resource officer for Taber Police Service, at the presentation.
Inspector Graham Abela noted at the start of his presentation that the focus would be on three main drugs in cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine/ecstasy, along with dabbling in some prescription drugs that are being abused in Taber.
“Right now our police officers in the Town of Taber are working a file where we have seized a significant amount of marijuana (Dec. 5). That should tell you that everyday we are out there being vigilant (about) substances coming into our community,” said Abela.
“We have a lot of cannabis in our community, but so does every other community.”
Drug experts have noted for every 1,000 people you have in your community, there is about a pound of marijuana that comes in to your community every week.
“If we have 8,000 people in Taber, that’s about eight pounds of marijuana coming into Taber a week,” said Abela.
British Columbia is the source province in which cannabis creation is the province’s number-one export.
“It beats fisheries, it beats lumber, it beats mining and it beats agriculture. Marijuana is B.C.’s number-one export,” said Abela.
“It is grown four hours from here by the hill folk and all of it goes through Calgary on Highway 3, Highway 1 and Highway 16 to the other parts of Canada if it is going by vehicle. We have a lot of marijuana that goes through our community, but doesn’t stop here.”
Abela noted a frustration from an enforcement perspective of the paradox that is going on right now involving the drug.
“Under the Criminal Code, you cannot possess marijuana. If you have less than 30 grams of marijuana, you are not going to be fingerprinted, but it is still illegal,” said Abela.
“Yet we have politicians in Ottawa who are acknowledging they are using it and that they want to legalize it. So I have to stand up here as a police officer and compete against people like Justin Trudeau.”
As a community, the message that has to get out is that it is illegal, regardless of what Trudeau says, according to Abela.
“If it becomes legal then I as a police officer have no right to speak of it again, but because it is still illegal we have to deal with it as a community because it’s not allowed to happen,” said Abela.
In some states in the United States, cannabis has become controlled by the state in which it can be sold by licence.
“It doesn’t mean it is legal. Because if you don’t have a licence and you possess it, it’s still an offence. Or if you possess more than the licence allows you to possess it’s still an offence. We need to get some facts straight,” said Abela. “There are medical licences across Canada. Under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a person can go to a qualified practitioner and obtain a licence to possess cannabis marijuana and to grow cannabis marijuana in their homes. We have people here in Taber who have that licence (for medical reasons).”
Coming in plant, oil and hash forms, the active ingredient in all of them is the same in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Much to the contrary of what many believe according to Abela, marijuana is a drug that has not been studied very well. There are 13 cannabinoids found in marijuana, in which THC is only one of them.
“We really don’t have a good understanding of the affects of those other cannabinoids. We don’t know if they are carcinogenic, or their addictive properties,” said Abela.
“What we do know is a lot about THC. What we do know about marijuana is it has about 40 times more tar in it than a cigarette. Marijuana burns at a higher temperature than tobacco does, so when it gets inhaled into the lungs it hurts where it burns the cilia.”
Marijuana gives you a feeling of well being, a dreamy state with an increased sense of smell. Shifting imagery, it fluctuates emotion and can give hallucinations according to Abela.
“Marijuana is fat soluble. What that means is when you ingest the drug, it goes into your blood stream, enters your brain cells, but it also enters the fat cells that line your brain cells and the rest of your body,” said Abela.
“When that builds up over time, when stoners begin to break down the fat in their bodies, the THC is released, and you get a rush of THC even though you have not ingested it for a long time. That’s the problem with it. That is a flashback, so you don’t know when you are driving down the road a month later if you are impaired by THC.”
According to Abela, marijuana is considered addictive and has withdrawal effects in which there are 460 chemicals found within marijuana that when lit convert to 2,000 chemicals.
“It can cause coughing and chest pain and hinder reproduction,” said Abela.
The majority of marijuana in Taber is found in plant form. But local police have also seized it in the oil and hash form.
“West of Thunder Bay, Ontario, we see a lot of plants, east of Thunder Bay we get more into the hash. Quebec is well known for hash, but they all come from plants,” said Abela.
The bud from the marijuana plant comes from the female plant. Abela has grown marijuana plants as a licensed practice in his police training. Being very poor at it, in three months, officers obtained three ounces of weed where estimations are at $200 an ounce.
“If I’m a drug dealer, why would I sell it for $200 an ounce when I can make 90 joints out of that same ounce and sell each joint for $5. I can make $450 selling it to a kid or $200 selling it to an adult. As a drug dealer, who would I sell it to — kids, because that’s where my biggest bang for my buck is. These dealers target kids,” said Abela.
“It has been a long time since I’ve encountered a grow-op in Taber and that’s because you can get it so easily where there are hills and hills of it four hours from here.”
“Our message to the community is that we as a police service understand the issues of addiction. We believe that those suffering from drug use and abuse are often in crisis and we as a police service welcome those in this situation to seek our help. We have an excellent relationship with Taber Community Against Drugs and are part of a multi- agency support team.”
“As police officers we have several roles within our public safety mandate. Of course we have our traditional roles as police officers in enforcing the law, however, one of our other roles is to be caring and compassionate with people who are suffering and to understand the underlying issues of addiction and try to help where we can. We are open 24 hours a day and are here to help.” – Inspector Graham Abela