Councillor Shelley Carroll

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Toronto Drug Strategy Initiative

Asked to submit an "Ideas and Issues" column to the Bayview Post today; the following is what I submitted concerning the launch of our new Toronto Drug Strategy Initiative, beginning consultation the first week of May:

Why a Toronto Drug Strategy initiative? Why Now?
Demographically we must get ahead of what could be our most difficult generation of young adults or our most triumphant.

Our youth population, our Echo Boom, have been exposed to more than any other generation before them. Most have seen a drug culture that includes a wider variety of dangerous and addictive substance use or have used. Many have witnessed or joined an ever-increasing practice of dangerous binge drinking. Use of ‘designer club drugs’ such as ecstasy and crystal-meth have spread such that one cannot assume that because their child hasn’t joined the Rave scene that they haven’t been offered these substances.

Add to this the rise on Toronto streets of crack cocaine, a drug whose draw is so strong that it is almost always accompanied by weapons trade, sex trade and other abhorrent behaviours in the all powerful quest to feed the habit. No youngster should witness all of this on the short walk to school and yet many do. Some are even drawn into the Crack scene when a zero-tolerance approach deposits them on the street for days at a time.

Now is the time to set aside any and all blame for how we reached this point. Blaming means never having to act. We need to create an atmosphere where all of these issues can proceed to be dealt with openly and effectively from prevention to harm reduction to treatment to law enforcement. Restoring order and calming the drug scene so prevalent on our streets would reduce the societal harms these young people have already witnessed. They could transcend all they have seen and be the next great generation. For those who succumb to addiction under the added pressure of adulthood, we would be ready, FOR ONCE, to help.

(Drug Strategy Consultation evenings across the City will begin the first week of May. Call Collette and Jenny at 416-392-4038 to find the location nearest you.)