OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the scourge of opioids by more closely vetting people who import pill presses.
In a resolution passed at its annual conference in Halifax, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said the federal government did not go far enough when it introduced changes that made it illegal to import unregistered presses.
The chiefs say the illicit use of presses has helped increase the supply of street drugs containing synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, contributing to a crisis of overdose deaths.
According to figures published in June, there were 3,987 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada in 2017, the vast majority of which were unintentional. Almost-three quarters of accidental opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, compared to 55 per cent the previous year.
Police raids of drug labs have shown that presses, encapsulators, stamps and dyes are widely used in producing counterfeit pills.
“In our efforts to disrupt this illegal market we were frustrated with the ease at which these devices could be purchased and imported,” the chiefs said in a background document made public Tuesday.
“Several investigations have revealed the significant amount of pills that could be produced for street distribution with these industrial pill presses.”
Changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last year introduced a registration requirement to import pill presses. But the chiefs say tightening these provisions further would help police.
“Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and its analogues continue to make their way to the illicit drug markets across Canada,” says the background document.