New program starts in Sault Ste. Marie to reduce methamphetamine production

A program to identify manufacturers of methamphetamine is now up and running in Sault Ste. Marie.

Meth Watch is a partnership between police, the local drug strategy committee and Crime Stoppers

A number of items can be used to produce meth, including cold medicine and drain cleaner. A new program in Sault Ste. Marie is working to flag large purchases of items used to make meth. (CBC)

A program to identify manufacturers of methamphetamine is now up and running in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Meth Watch program allows retailers, members of the public and law enforcement to help identify and stop the production of methamphetamine.

Constable Sonny Spina says police have noticed a slight increase in the use of meth and want to curb it right away.

He says the program is mainly about educating retailers about the very common ingredients that go into the making of methamphetamine.

Spina says purchases of large quantities of cold medicine, acetone, iodine and drain cleaner may be signs someone is manufacturing the drugs.    

Police are asking they be notified.

"And when we see start seeing very irregular purchases either large purchases or a large number of purchases back to back in really quick succession," he said.

Sonny Spina is a constable with Sault Ste. Marie police. (YouTube )

"Those are the kinds of things we'll be looking out for."

George Wright works with the John Howard Society and is a consultant with the Community Drug Strategy.

He says the region is obviously in the grip of the opioid crisis but meth is making inroads.

"It causes them to go high-energy, high-fast, and they're up for hours and they get into a manic state and then during when they're coming down, paranoia can be part of what happens to them," he said.

Reduction in other communities

"In some cases, there can be long term brain damage or long term effects that they develop [like] psychosis."

Wright says he thinks crude, homemade meth is becoming more common. He says in other areas, the Meth Watch program has proven to be successful. For example, in Kansas, where the program was implemented, over a three year period, he says that area saw a 27 per cent reduction in meth labs.

"That's significant," he said. "If we can get any kind of reduction in the production [then] we're doing the right things."

We've heard a lot about the opioid crisis, but people in Sault Ste Marie are trying to deal with the harms of another drug in that community... meth. George Wright works part-time with the John Howard Society in Sault Ste. Marie. He joined us to talk about how meth is affecting his community. 6:25

Other police services in the region say meth is present in their communities, but Sault Ste Marie is the only one taking part in the Meth Watch program.

Not all methamphetamine is created locally in labs.     

Provincial police say a large, international joint investigation has led to the seizure of methamphetamine at auto dealerships across Ontario.

Those drugs are suspected to be smuggled in cars brought into the country by rail.

With files from Kate Rutherford

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