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Belleville police warn about new "bath salts" drug

By Steph Crosier

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BELLEVILLE, ON (06/03/2012) Deputy Chief Paul VanderGraaf explains that the Belleville Police's drug unit and Project Longarm are ready if the new drug "bath salts" comes into Belleville or Quinte. Photo by Steph Crosier

Belleville police are warning the Belleville and Quinte community that a dangerous new drug may come to the area.

Paul VandeGraaf, deputy chief of Belleville police said that the police have not had or seen any reports of the new dangerous drug “bath salts” in Belleville or Quinte but are ready if they do.

The bath salts only look like Epsom salts used in the shower. Known as “Bliss” or “Purple Wave,” on the street, the new drug is created with mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) said VandeGraaf. The drug causes hallucinations, high blood pressure, and the urge for suicide.

Cate Sutherland, executive director of the Hastings Prince Edward Addictions Centre, said they aren’t familiar with the new drug.

“Never heard of it,” said Sutherland. “Haven’t had any reports in our area.”

“Doesn’t mean we won’t,” said VandeGraaf. “The Ottawa police have been a forerunner, and they have seen it in their community.”

VandeGraaf said that police reports have told his unit that the drug originated in Europe and the United States. So far there have been reports of use in Ottawa, Toronto, and Owen Sound.

VandeGraaf acknowledged the possibility of the drug coming to the area because of our location.

“We do fall between Toronto and Montreal or Ottawa and we are a 401-corridor town,” said VandeGraaf. “So yes we do see the transportation of counterfeit bills, drugs, stolen property, fraudulent checks, fraudulent credit cards being a 401 corridor community. So we work very well with our neighboring communities.”

VandeGraaf said that the drug unit and Project Longarm, created in 2001 to reduce the amount of drugs trafficked in the Belleville and Quinte area, will deal with this new situation when or if the drug comes to the Belleville and Quinte area.

“It’s a synthetic hallucinogenic,” said VandeGraaf. “Right yet the drug is not yet controlled under the controlled drugs and substances act because it is a new drug. Doesn’t make it legal, it is still illegal.”

VandeGraaf said the drug is so dangerous because of the violent reactions.

“It has some very violent behavioral links to it that synthetic hallucinogenic drug causes extreme reaction in people including dangerously high blood pressure, anxiety, delusions, and violent behavior,” VandeGraaf read from a report.

Stephanie McFaul, communicable disease program manager at the health unit, said that those who may use the drug in the area would be welcome to use the area’s needle exchange program. The program is to encourage safe drug use without spreading infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV.

“Yes, definitely if that was a drug that came into use within our area we would certainly be encouraging those users to be up taking our program,” said McFaul.

VandeGraaf said that the drug unit and Project Longarm, learned of the drug from other police services including the Ottawa police.

“We have a very active drug enforcement unit,” said VandeGraaf. “They are networking with all their peers around the province. As things become prevalent, they share information.”

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