The federal government does not support two vending machines in Vancouver that dispense crack pipes as part of a campaign to curb the spread of disease.
The machines, run by the Portland Hotel Society (PHS), sell new, packaged crack pipes for a quarter each in the Downtown Eastside. Drug users are vulnerable to diseases like HIV or hepatitis C spread through broken pipes.
But Federal Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Saturday that his government does not endorse the machines.
"Drug use damages the health of individuals and the safety of our communities. We believe law enforcement should enforce the law,” Blaney said in a statement, according to the Toronto Sun.
“While the NDP and Liberals would prefer that doctors hand out heroin and needles to those suffering from addiction, this government supports treatment that ends drug use, including limiting access to drug paraphernalia by young people.”
Mark Townsend, executive director of PHS, told News 1130 that instead of being so out of touch, the feds should be part of the solution: "We could all beg to disagree but why don’t we work together to get people off drugs. It would make a lot of sense and they need to be a partner in this stuff, rather than just a rhetorical partner, you know, just making these silly statements.”
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How Crack Works
Crack is highly addictive because it activates nerve cells in the brain that cause a chemical imbalance of dopamine, affecting the part of the brain responsible for reward. This causes a psychological reinforcement effect that can cause users to <a href="http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/crack.asp" target="_hplink">develop an intense craving for the drug</a> in order to revisit the deceptively pleasurable feelings that accompany its use. Users can quickly develop a dependency from 'chasing the high.'
The onset of a high from snorting cocaine is not as fast as smoking it, and lasts for about 30 minutes, <a href="http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/crack.asp" target="_hplink">compared to just five to 15 minutes when smoking crack</a>.
Long-Term Side Effects
Long-term health effects of chronic crack use include heavy tolerance on the drug, severe depression, psychosis, sexual and reproductive dysfunction, weight loss, respiratory failures, heart disease and frequent nose bleeds or sinus infections, according to the <a href="http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/crack.asp" target="_hplink">Center for Substance Abuse Research</a>.
By mixing alcohol and cocaine, a t<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/nov/08/cocaine-alcohol-mixture-health-risks " target="_hplink">hird and highly toxic chemical called cocaethylene is formed</a>. While more research is needed to determine its exact health risks, researchers blame it for liver problems, heart attacks in those under 40 and a slew of social problems, causing more deaths than any other drug combination.
Second Most-Common Drug
After marijuana, crack and cocaine were the <a href="http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/drugs-drogues/stat/_2011/summary-sommaire-eng.php#a4" target="_hplink">second most commonly used illicit drugs in Canada</a>, according to official data from 2011.
Lucrative Industry, Devastating Effects
Experts estimate the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/02/western-banks-colombian-cocaine-trade" target="_hplink">trade value of cocaine to be around $300 billion a year</a> in 2008, with the global supply controlled mostly by criminal networks in Columbia, the Guardian reported. Of that figure, though, only $7.8 billion remained within the country. But among its users, low-level sellers, and those affected by proxy, crack has devastating effects. Studies show significant increases in <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w18437" target="_hplink">crime, muder and incarceration</a> rates when crack cocaine is introduced into a community. "<a href="http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/10/10/how-crack-cocaine-widened-the-black-white-education-gap/" target="_hplink">Within a five-year period, the homicide rate among young urban [American] blacks quadrupled</a>," economist Steven D. Levitt wrote about the crack epidemic in the U.S. in his best-selling book, Freakonomics.'
Cocaine was used <a href="http://knowledgex.camh.net/amhspecialists/resources_families/Pages/cocaine_dyk.aspx" target="_hplink">as far back as 4,500 years ago</a> when people in the Andean countries of South America chewed coca leaves, which cocaine originates from, to alleviate hunger and fatigue, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Is That Where The Name Comes From?
Coca Cola inventor John Pemberton <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/15/coke-recipe-found_n_823552.html" target="_hplink">first used cocaine as an ingredient in the soft drink in 1886</a>. The energizing and euphoric effects of the soft drink was responsible for propelling Coke to its standing as one of the most popular beverages in history. <a href="http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/cocaine-history.html " target="_hplink">It was removed as an ingredient in 1903</a> amid growing public pressure.
Researchers discovered in the late 19th century that the cocaine bush numbs whatever tissue it touches, which <a href="http://knowledgex.camh.net/amhspecialists/resources_families/Pages/cocaine_dyk.aspx" target="_hplink">led to its use as a local anesthetic</a>, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Crack can be administered by a doctor when performing some <a href="http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine-abuse-addiction/what-cocaine" target="_hplink">eye, ear and throat surgeries,</a> according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Freud Was An Advocate...
The psychologist Sigmund Freud <a href="http://knowledgex.camh.net/amhspecialists/resources_families/Pages/cocaine_dyk.aspx" target="_hplink">hailed the effects of cocaine as a treatment method</a> for depression and alcohol and opioid addiction in papers he wrote in the 1880s.
.. And Then An Addict
William Stewart Halsted, a surgeon practicing in New York in the 1880s, was the first famous American physician to use cocaine as an anesthetic during surgery. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/books/howard-markel-on-cocaine-in-anatomy-of-addiction.html?_r=0 " target="_hplink">Both he and Freud became addicts shortly thereafter</a>.
Crack gets its name from the crackling or popping sound that it makes when it is heated and turns to smoke. <a href="http://www.crack-cocaine.org/street-names.htm" target="_hplink">Other street names for crack</a> include blast, caviar, devil's dandruff, electric kool-aid, twinkie and window pane.
Under Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, unlawful possession is subject to a <a href="imprisonment.http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-1996-c-19/latest/sc-1996-c-19.html" target="_hplink">fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months</a>, or both, for a first offence. Crack carries a maximum term for possession of seven years and the maximum term for distribution is life.
Cocaine Crime In Canada
According to a February 2013 report on crime statistics in Canada, there were <a href="http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/files/pdf/Police-reported-Crime-Statistics-in-Canada-February-2013.pdf" target="_hplink">7,390 incidents of cocaine possession in 2011</a>, a 23 per cent increase since 2001. There were 10,200 cocaine trafficking and production incidents in 2011, up a 37 per cent from 2001.
The Price Of Crack
Crack in the Greater Toronto Area <a href="http://www.cancrime.com/2010/03/13/police-release-buyers-price-guide-for-street-drugs/" target="_hplink">reportedly sells for about $20 for .08 to .12 grams, and upwards of $1,000 for an ounce</a>, according to 2009 stats released by the RCMP . See the <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/28242613/RCMP-street-price-list-for-illicit-drugs-in-Toronto" target="_hplink">full-size chart here</a>.
According to one study, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/14/cocaine.traces.money/" target="_hplink">traces of cocaine can be found on 90 percent of paper money in the United States</a>. This doesn't, however, prove that every bill was used as a snorting straw because the fine powdery cocaine is easily spread around and can easily contaminate the inside of currency-counting machines at the bank.
Crack Use Among Canadian Youth
The use of crack, a freebase form of cocaine, among youth ages 15 to 24 years <a href="http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/drugs-drogues/stat/index-eng.php" target="_hplink">decreased from 11.3 per cent in 2004 to 4.8 per cent in 2011</a>, according to Health Canada. Get <a href="http://www.ccsa.ca/2006 CCSA Documents/ccsa-011328-2006.pdf" target="_hplink">more stats here</a>.
How It's Made
To make crack cocaine, <a href="http://www.ccsa.ca/2006%20CCSA%20Documents/ccsa-011328-2006.pdf" target="_hplink">powdered cocaine is first dissolved and then boiled in a mixture</a> of water and ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to separate the hydrochloride from the cocaine base until it dries and forms yellowish-white lumps or rocks.