SURREY — A Surrey provincial court judge has sentenced a man who was busted with heroin cut with fentanyl to six months in jail to be followed by two years’ probation.
Judge Donald Gardner found Jason Lee Hambly guilty of possessing heroin containing fentanyl as well as cocaine and methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking. He was sentenced in May and the judgement was posted Friday.
The court heard Hambly was arrested near a SkyTrain station with 3.18 grams of heroin, a “four-pack” of crystal meth, and just over two grams of crack cocaine.
The Crown asked for a sentence of six to eight months and the defence, 90 days or less to be served intermittently.
“It is difficult to overlook the fact that the heroin which was found and subsequently analyzed was discovered to be combined with fentanyl,” the judge noted. “Even if I accept that he was not aware that the heroin that he was possessing for sale to others contained fentanyl, there is a degree of recklessness that is of concern.”
Gardner noted that fentanyl, an extremely powerful opiate, is 100 times stronger than morphine and 20 times stronger than heroin and in the first three months of 2016 there have been more than 200 fentanyl-related overdose death in B.C.
Meantime, this past Saturday Fraser Health and the Surrey RCMP issued a public warning following 20 known drug overdoses in 24 hours. The count has since increased to 43. None were fatal.
Dr. Victoria Lee, chief medical health officer, said a significant amount of naxolone was needed to reverse the overdoses, many of which happened on 135A Street in Whalley.
Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaiiwal is calling for a “Surrey emergency summit” between all levels of government “to respond immediately” to this “unprecedented health crisis.”
“I am requesting that my municipal and provincial counterparts join all Surrey Members of Parliament in a sit-down to have detailed discussions on a coordinated response,” Dhaliwal said. “We have never seen these types of narcotics entering Surrey, and it is time for politics to be put aside so that effective collaboration can occur quickly.”
Dhaliwal maintains that “while we must continue to target the drug dealers and gangs that are bringing this poison into our community, it is time to start to look at addiction as an issue best dealt within the medical system, not the criminal justice system.
“We have now reached a point of understanding where addiction must be considered as an illness and treated accordingly,” Dhaliwal said. “Unlike the previous government, we do not believe that the solution is to simply imprison people suffering with such medical issues.”
Dhailwal suggested a “made in Surrey response” could involve setting up a safe-injection site or providing more funding for frontline services.”