Conservative government proposes changes to how drugs are managed

The Conservative government wants to revamp the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the first time in nearly two decades, but the changes won’t be able to pass before the fall election.

OTTAWA — The Conservative government wants to revamp the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the first time in nearly two decades, but the changes won’t be able to pass before the fall election.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose says the act, which governs the way drugs are managed, needs to be modernized to address significant changes to both the legal and illicit drug markets.

Ambrose announced a series of changes at Ottawa police headquarters on Thursday, alongside Roxanne James, parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety.

Ambrose said emerging designer drugs need to be subject to the rules, but they are not regulated yet.

“Dangerous designer drugs often targeted at youth are appearing on our streets more frequently,” Ambrose said. “Anyone who has watched the show ’Breaking Bad’ knows exactly what I am talking about.”

There’s not enough time left in the current session of Parliament for the legislation to pass, so the bill will be reintroduced in the next Parliament if the Conservatives are re-elected, she added.

“We did a lot of work with stakeholders to get this bill ready to go,” Ambrose said. “This is the first time the (act) has been updated in 20 years and this is a bill that has to be passed.”

The changes include a temporary control authority that would allow the minister to order a stop to the import, export, production or distribution of a substance that poses a risk to health and safety.

The proposed amendments include stronger tools to target illegal drug production and distribution.

Ambrose also said increased powers are needed so she can quickly review new substances and target emerging issues around drug abuse.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act was passed in 1997.

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