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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

Tsawwassen resident Angeline Splockton won $100,000 from a Luxury Crossword Scratch & Win ticket. (BCLC photo)
Nightly ritual turns into $100K win for Tsawwassen woman

Angeline Splockton uncovered 11 words on her Luxury Crossword Scratch & Win ticket

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

The Delta Hospice Society operates the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care (pictured) and the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner. (The Canadian Press photo)
Fraser Health to evict Delta Hospice Society, open new hospice beds next door

Health authority will serve DHS 30 days’ notice when service agreement expires Feb. 25

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Most Read