An OPP officer displays bags containing fentanyl as Ontario Provincial Police host a news conference in Vaughan, Ont., on February 23, 2017. Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

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.

The new resolution calls for comprehensive scrutiny of people and businesses importing pill presses and encapsulators, including a requirement to spell out the equipment’s intended use. In addition, the chiefs want controls over domestic sales of imported presses.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said Tuesday the federal department values the chiefs’ input and “will listen carefully to their views as we continue our work to keep Canadians safe.”

He noted that importers are already required to register the address where a pill press will be used, and that information can be disclosed to police as part of an investigation.

Related: B.C. mother writes to fight opioid crisis

Related: B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

British Columbia, which has been hard hit by opioid overdoses, introduced legislation in April aimed at restricting ownership, possession and use of manufacturing equipment, including presses.

The bill would require those looking to sell the equipment to register and consent to a criminal record check. In addition, there are notification provisions concerning sales.

“This bill is critical in bolstering police efforts to disrupt the supply chain and get counterfeit pills off of the streets and out of the hands of those who recklessly distribute death-dealing drugs,” B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said at the time.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Revelstoke donated time, money and food in annual Emergency Services Food Drive

Over 300 volunteers got together last week for the annual Emergency Services… Continue reading

Revelstoke city council brings forward proposed cannabis framework

Four bylaws amended that will allow retail sales and production in the city

LUNA Q&A: Revelstokian Nicolas Houle painting herons

See everyday spaces transformed in the night at the second annual LUNA… Continue reading

Reach a Reader: Help Revelstoke literacy association share the love of reading

October is the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy’s annual Books for Kids campaign

Weekday weather update

A look at your Okanagan-Shuswap weekday weather for Sept. 24

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Don’t feed birds in the parking lot

Vernon wildlife control services owner says feeding ducks and geese, or any wildlife, is bad

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read