Poster released by the Calgary Police Service shows the dangers of a new drug. Public health officials in Alberta are going into classrooms and on Twitter to spread the word about a deadly drug similar to ecstasy that has been linked to a growing number of deaths across Western Canada.

Experts take fight against poison ecstasy to Twitter, schools

CALGARY — Alberta health experts will be going into classrooms and using Twitter to warn about a deadly drug similar to ecstasy that has been linked to a growing number of deaths in Western Canada.

CALGARY — Alberta health experts will be going into classrooms and using Twitter to warn about a deadly drug similar to ecstasy that has been linked to a growing number of deaths in Western Canada.

Police say warning people about PMMA — known as “Dr. Death” on the street — is a challenge because it looks the same as ecstasy, a popular but illegal recreational drug. Police believe the ecstasy-like drug is linked to eight deaths in southern Alberta and five in British Columbia over the last six months.

Investigators are trying to find the source of the drugs, but haven’t been successful.

Alberta Health Services officials, along with police officers, are to talk to students at an elementary-junior high school in Calgary later this month, with presentations at other schools to follow.

“Our message is these drugs kill,” Dr. Mark Yarema, a poison and drug expert with the health agency, said Wednesday.

“PMMA is far more toxic than MDMA, which is referred to as ecstasy. We know that it has a higher incidence of seizures and irregular heartbeats and hypothermia.

“And the PMMA is being sold as ecstasy, so you have absolutely no idea what you’re getting.”

Yarema said he also wants teenagers to know that PMMA can cause permanent brain and kidney damage.

Over the last few days, police have been distributing posters at Calgary schools to warn students that PMMA and ecstasy may be cut with dangerous substances such as drain cleaner or campstove fuel.

The slogan on the posters is What You Can’t See Can Kill You.

Yarema will also take part in an hour-long question-and-answer session this Friday on Twitter about the dangers of the drug.

The message will be aimed at young people and their parents.

RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb said the brightly coloured pills can change hands numerous times before they are actually sold to the person who takes them.

Police suspect the source could be the B.C. Lower Mainland, but the drugs could be made in a makeshift lab just about anywhere. Often the person who sells the PMMA isn’t aware of what is in the pills.

“They simply got a pill from somebody who got a pill from somebody. The only one who really knows what is in it is the guy who made it in the first place,” Webb said.

“The ones who are dying are buying what they think is ecstasy and they are getting PMMA.

“And it is killing them.”

In Calgary, police are urging people who have ecstasy tablets to turn them in. At one point, police briefly considered amnesty for people who have the drug, but decided the force didn’t have the legal jurisdiction, said spokesman Kevin Brooker. The move could also have let criminals off the hook.

Brooker said police also want to step up efforts to get word out to adults about PMMA’s dangers.

“If you look at the deaths in Calgary, the ages have been from the late teens to the mid 40s,” he said.

— By John Cotter in Edmonton

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Westerner Park asks the city for up to $3.5 million to continue operating

The city has already given Westerner Park $1 million in emergency funding

86-year-old shaves his head to raise money for Red Deer Food Bank

Red Deer resident Art Nichols, who shaved his head recently to raise… Continue reading

NHL says 5% of players have tested positive for COVID-19 at voluntary workouts

NEW YORK — The NHL says 35 players have tested positive for… Continue reading

Tories, NDP lay out demands as Liberals prepare to reveal state of economy

OTTAWA — Opposition parties have laid out their demands as the federal… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

David Marsden: Leave the financial stimulus to private industry

So, you’ve heard the announcement about the economic stimulus that is much… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake woman distressed after cat shot at with pellet gun, loses its eye

Warning: Photo may be disturbing to some. Evelina Cornell’s cat Ms Grey was shot in the face and hip

Flood of people are expected to flee Hong Kong clampdown

“We will grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain (in the… Continue reading

Canadian Taylor Pendrith one shot back heading into final round

BERTHOUD, Colo. — Canadian Taylor Pendrith is in contention for his first… Continue reading

Five things to watch as Blue Jays open training camp in Toronto

Most MLB players are beginning their summer training camps Friday in preparation… Continue reading

Theatre star Nick Cordero dies at 41 after months of complications from COVID-19

TORONTO — Hamilton-raised theatre star Nick Cordero, who had legions of supporters… Continue reading

Spaghetti Western movie composer Ennio Morricone dead at 91

ROME — Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning Italian composer who created the coyote-howl… Continue reading

P.E.I. reports three new COVID-19 cases, including one seniors’ residence employee

CHARLOTETOWN, P.E.I. — Prince Edward Island reported new COVID-19 cases for the… Continue reading

Most Read