In the span of a decade, Canada has gone from ecstasy importer to global supplier of the illegal party drug. At the same time, even newer designer highssometimes just a mouse-click awayare flooding the drug market faster than legislation can keep pace.
It's a worrying problem that University of Alberta researchers say requires more education to help Canadians understand the very real, deadly risks of designer drug use.
"The chemists who are making these drugs are coming up with about 10 new drugs per year; the legislation cannot keep up with the market," said Alan Hudson, a pharmacologist at the U of A who studies how ecstasy and other drugs affect brain neurochemistry. "The best way forward is to educate people that they're playing Russian roulettethe health risks from taking these drugs are high, and potentially lethal."
In a new paper published in Drug Science, Policy and Law, Hudson and his U of A co-authorsMaggie Lalies, Glen Baker, Kris Wells and Katherine Aitchisonwarn the recreational drug scene is growing in Canada, fuelled by an appetite for designer drugs and legal highs such as K2, spice, Benzo fury, Barts, Homers, bath salts, plant food and other "party pills."
"This is a pressing public health issue," said Wells, director of programs and services with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services. "The profile that we're seeing of someone taking ecstasy or these so-called recreational drugs is not perhaps your average user when we think of drug use. It could be one of our own university students going to a party on the weekendwhere they haven't experimented beforeand then take a tablet of ecstasy. It doesn't have an effect and they take another one; pretty soon they're in emergency fighting for their life."
Designer highs, massive profits
Newer designer drugs, often purchased online from Asia, can represent big business in Canada.
"For some of these legal hig
|Contact: Bryan Alary|
University of Alberta