Canada’s border officials now have new powers to seize chemicals used to make illegal opioids.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow certain law enforcement agencies, including the Canada Border Services Agency, to stop what’s known as precursor chemicals from being brought into Canada and then used to make deadly fentanyl and amphetamines, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy.
Previously, officers could only act once the illegal substances were actually made or if there was evidence that the raw chemicals were going to be used to make an illegal drug.
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“The regulatory amendments that come into effect today will help protect the health and safety of Canadians by making it easier for our border service and police officers to tackle illegal trafficking and production of controlled substances involving novel chemicals,” said Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in statement.
“Controlling these chemicals will help to reduce the contamination of the illegal drug supply with highly toxic substances, ultimately helping to save lives.”
The changes are effective immediately meaning officers can start seizing chemicals like benzylfentanyl and norfentanyl.
The opioid crisis has killed more than 10,330 Canadians since January 2016, according to Health Canada.
According to an internal drug analysis report, the number of methamphetamine seizures by border officers rose by 333 per cent in 2018 over 2017, as consumption soared.
Meanwhile, the number of fentanyl seizures by border officers dropped by 64 per cent last year.