Demand for ecstasy rivalling weed
Colourful little pills sold as ecstasy are now as popular as marijuana among teens and young adults, police in Nova Scotia say.
RCMP have seized more than 50,000 tablets over the past year in drug raids in Halifax, Yarmouth, Amherst, and a number of smaller communities.
Cpl. Gord Vail, with the RCMP synthetic drug unit, said there is a lot more still out there.
"It's simply a sample of what's being trafficked every day through the province," he told CBC News on Thursday.
The pills, which give the user a feeling of euphoria, come in a range of colours. They're stamped with fake corporate logos such as the Nike swoosh, or depict cartoon characters. Some are shaped like Bart Simpson.
"It's pretty clear they're marketing those to a younger audience," said Vail.
In fact, Vail said the pills are as popular as marijuana among teens and adults aged 15 to 30, and are found everywhere, including schools and bars in both urban and rural centres.
The pills are odourless, easy to hide and affordable, said Vail, noting a single tablet sells for between $6 and $10.
"It's certainly comparable to cannabis in terms of popularity," he said.
Pill labels often misleading
Though the little pills are labelled ecstasy, they may be something very different. Vail said 58 per cent of the tablets sent to Health Canada for testing were actually a mixture of substances that are easier and cheaper to produce.
This means the pills can be more dangerous and more addictive, he added.
Vail isn't surprised to see more ecstasy-labelled pills in the province. After all, he said, drug trends flow from west to east and what's big in Western Canada eventually is big in Atlantic Canada. He remembers when ecstasy first hit the Nova Scotia market in 1999 and 2000.
"It's just grown in popularity since that time," said Vail.
Back then, 1,000 tablets sold for $13,000. In today's market, that amount could go for $2,000.
"That's directly attributable to how many groups are into producing this drug, how popular it is and how flush the market is with these tablets now," said Vail.
Vail said the tablets are produced by organized crime groups in B.C., Ontario and Quebec, and police often find the pills during raids for cocaine and other drugs.
The pills seized by police this year are destined for the court system to be used as evidence in drug-related cases.
Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 | 3:15 PM AT