FILE - A sample of drugs seized in Edmonton on June 5, 2019. (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team handout)

Alberta expanding number of ‘drug treatment courts’ to battle addiction

The government says it will spend $20 million over the next four years

The Alberta government is setting up more drug treatment courts in an effort to fight the ongoing problem of substance abuse in the province.

The government says it will spend $20 million over the next four years to establish a court in Lethbridge to add to the ones in Edmonton and Calgary.

The government intends to open other facilities in yet-to-be announced locations.

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Drug courts combine treatment and rehabilitation with strict court supervision instead of jail time for people charged in non-violent offences related to substance abuse.

The province is also earmarking $50 million to support efforts to disrupt and dismantle organized crime, including more regional organized crime units.

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Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says the high rate of drug use in the Lethbridge area makes it the natural place to begin taking action.

“Southern Alberta has had the highest increase in methamphetamine use across the province since 2012-2013 and trafficking in hard drugs such as meth and heroin in Lethbridge is nearly six times the national average,” Schweitzer said in a news release Monday.

“We are also providing law enforcement in southern Alberta with the tools they need to disrupt and dismantle the organized crime groups that traffic and supply the illegal drugs that fuel addiction and take a terrible toll on our communities.”

The Canadian Press

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