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N.W.T. RCMP warn of 2 new noxious substances found in illicit drugs

Northwest Territories RCMP are warning the public of two new noxious substances found in illicit drugs they seized in Yellowknife last November.

Substances are a concern for unexpected reactions and other contaminants, like opioids, says deputy CPHO

Northwest Territories RCMP are warning the public of two new noxious substances found in illicit drugs they seized in Yellowknife last November. The effect of these new substances is not known and could signify the presence of other contaminants, like opioids, says the territory's deputy chief public health officer. (CBC)

Police are warning users of illicit drugs across the Northwest Territories of two new noxious substances they found in illicit drugs seized in Yellowknife last November, and for which the health effects are not known.

In a Tuesday news release, RCMP said the drugs they seized — believed to crack cocaine, powder cocaine and tablets — were found to contain adinazolam and 5-MeO-DBT after being analyzed by the Health Canada Drug Analysis Service.

"These two drugs are a concern for unexpected reactions, and the concern for other contaminants like opioids is always present," said Dr. Andy Delli Pizzi, the N.W.T.'s deputy chief public health officer, in the release.

The Yellowknife RCMP's general investigation section seized the illicit drugs on Nov. 27, 2020 from a Yellowknife residence.

In an email to CBC on Jan. 27, police said they charged Byron Bibby and that he was scheduled to appear in court on that day. In a separate email the following day, police said Bibby was charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, one for cocaine and the other for alprazolam, being unlawfully in a dwelling-house and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

New substances increase danger of illicit drugs

Police said the substances are either presented as a new form of drug that people may be unaware they are consuming, or is so novel that limited information is available on its safety.

According to a spokesperson with the N.W.T.'s Department of Health and Social Services, an overdose of adinazolam "causes a sedative-hypnotic syndrome clinically similar to overdose from prescription benzodiazepines and may include drowsiness, lethargy, slurred speech, confusion, agitation and irritability."

In an email to CBC, the spokesperson went on to say that more serious effects could include hypotension, coma, respiratory depression and cardiorespiratory arrest.

Adverse effects of 5-MeO-DBT can include neurotoxicity, hallucinations, paranoia, tachycardia, hypertension and serotonin syndrome. 

"More severe outcomes may include hallucinogenic effects with life-threatening behavioural disturbance," said the spokesperson.

Those tainted drugs could be anywhere in the territory, so this warning is for the entire Northwest territories.- Insp. Dyson Smith, RCMP

The presence of the two new substances has increased the danger of illicit drugs, the release says.

"In fact, given the distribution systems of the illegal drug trade, those tainted drugs could be anywhere in the territory, so this warning is for the entire Northwest Territories" said Insp. Dyson Smith, the officer in charge of the RCMP's Yellowknife detachment, in the release.

The RCMP said it is working with the N.W.T. government Department of Health and Social Services to determine the impacts of the two new substances.

Delli Pizzi said in the release that people who use street or illicit drugs should always do so with others present and have a plan in case someone overdoses.

"The plan should include having naloxone present and calling 911 for help with any overdose" he said.

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