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ONTARIO: Cracking down on pill presses key to tackling opioid crisis: Police chiefs

Canada's police chiefs are asking for an amendment to Bill C-37
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As the opioid crisis continues to wreak havoc on communities across Canada, our police chiefs are now looking at different ways to combat the issue. 

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is now asking for an amendment to Bill C-37.

They want to beef it up so there will be a licensing system for pill presses - machines which can churn out thousands of counterfeit pills an hour, and can be bought online for just a few thousand dollars. 

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin is also the head of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

He tells The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS what exactly a pill press is. 

"These are lawful manufacturing machines, they aren't small by any nature - but they can produce about a thousand pills an hour. They're purchased internationally and domestically lawfully under Bill C-37. We're focused on the domestic sales as well as secondary sales and second-hand sales. We've seen some great progress in Canada, but these instruments pump out a lot of different pills - we're seeing counterfeit pills passed around on our streets, which is very much linked to fentanyl and the opioid crisis."

If someone is using one of these machines for illicit purposes, they're most likely creating dangerous counterfeit pills which are laced with other drugs. 

"That's what we're finding through our drug investigations - we're finding that pill presses are used to create these counterfeit pills. We've seen a number of people overdosing, and dying from use of these drugs. For example, we'll see a series of pills distributed as "Oxy 80s" - but in reality, it's been done by a 'street chemist' - and that's where you see the spike in fentanyl or other laced pills. Fighting this is another small step and small tool in this ongoing crisis, but we're looking for some change and hoping the government will meet with us for dialogue."

Larkin says under Bill C-37 currently, any one importing a pill press into Canada has to get approval.

"One of the challenges though is that people upgrade, and modernize their pill presses. So we're looking at how we can regulate the industry, and ensure these machines aren't getting sold on any secondhand sites. That's the challenge we're finding - we need to create a buffer and figure out how to make the sale of these machines harder for people domestically."

Larkin adds a few of these machines have been discovered through raids in Waterloo Region, but primarily it's a Western Canada issue.

"We have seen it in our region and province, but the majority have been in British Columbia and Alberta - it is morphing and moving into Ontario though."

Larkin adds border security also has to be ramped up, and more enforcement allowed, to crack down on this issue. 



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Erin Anderson

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