O’LEARY, P.E.I. - Parents attending an information session at the O’Leary Public Library on how to talk to children about cannabis and other drugs, shared concerns recently of what the legislation to legalize marijuana might mean.
West Prince RCMP officer, Const. JP Cote led the information session which attracted five adults and three elementary school-aged children.
The constable started the presentation with the RCMP’s definition of a drug: “Any substance that is taken to change the way the body or the mind functions.”
He provided advice to parents on how to talk to their children about drugs, suggesting they know the main points they want to discuss and to avoid giving the whole talk at once. He encouraged parents to leave room for their children to participate in the discussion and to ask questions, respect their opinions and to listen.
Cote noted the active substance in marijuana is THC, which is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain. He described some of the physical indications of marijuana use: a skunk-like odour, red eyes and enlarged pupils, slow mental reaction and excessive laughter.
Users, he said, often experience a dry mouth and they get the munchies a lot. While often described as mellow, users can also experience anxiety and panic attacks.
The eyes, Cote told his audience, often tell the story of drug use.
Drug recognition experts can often tell what drug subjects are using by studying their eyes.
Attendees were worried of easier access to the drug once marijuana is legalized.
Cote noted that the sale of the drug will be government-regulated, just like alcohol. Age of consumption will be 19 and over, and public consumption will not be permitted. He indicated marijuana impairment can last up to 24 hours and some jurisdictions are imposing zero tolerance for the consumption of marijuana when driving.
Saliva tests are being developed to test for the presence of THC.
The officer also used the presentation to alert parents and youth to the presence of other drugs in the community, including fentanyl.
He said that even a few grains of the drug can be lethal, and he warned that drug manufacturers are lacing their drugs with fentanyl because of its addictiveness.
“In a sense, marijuana legalization is sort of a good thing because you know what you’re going to get,” he said.
Asked for his opinion on marijuana legalization, Cote replied, “At the end of the day, my job is to enforce the law. I don’t make them, and I don’t provide the sentence, either.”
Fentanyl is so potent, Cote said, that RCMP officers, paramedics and some firefighters carry Narcan, a nasal spray containing Naloxone, with them at all times in case they come in contact with the drug. The spray blocks receptors in the brain to protect them from potential exposure to fentanyl.
Asked about drugs being used by area youth, Cote mentioned speed and added, “marijuana is everywhere.”
One parent said it “just blows my mind” that meth is available in West Prince. “It’s really scary.”