Pill press regulations tackle manufacturing of illicit drugs

Mike Farnworth

NEW legislation is now in place to support B.C.’s actions to prevent the illegal production of illicit opioids, bolstering police efforts to disrupt the supply chain and helping to get counterfeit pills off the streets.

The Pill Press and Related Equipment Control Act and the associated Pill Press and Related Equipment Control Regulation will come into force on January 15, 2019. The act is comprehensive legislation that will limit the ownership, possession and use of manufacturing equipment for pills and capsules to those with a legitimate business or professional purpose.

The regulation sets out the information that authorized owners, including registered sellers, must provide in events such as the acquisition, sale, loss or theft of controlled equipment and will update a database of equipment possessed by legitimate owners and businesses. This will enable tracing and random inspections.

It also will provide a process that authorized owners must follow if their licence to manufacture drugs or natural health products is suspended or cancelled by Health Canada.

“We developed this pill press legislation in a decisive move against the illegal production of pills, particularly illicit opioids,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Restricting access to pill presses is a key tool in getting counterfeit pills off the streets. B.C.’s cutting-edge regulations not only serve as a model for the rest of Canada but are critical in getting deadly pills out of the hands of those who recklessly distribute death-dealing drugs.”

The act and regulation will help to ensure that those who wish to sell controlled equipment must register as sellers and are subject to criminal record checks to guard against ties to criminal activity. People selling controlled equipment will be prohibited from receiving payment in the form of cash, prepaid purchase cards, cash cards or virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

Those who do not comply with the new legislation can face significant penalties for offences committed in relation to controlled equipment. New fines of up to $575 have been created. These fines can be issued for offences under the act, such as failing to maintain records or provide necessary notices.

“These regulations are another tool in the toolbox to help address the unpredictable toxic illegal drug supply that’s killing up to four British Columbians every day,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “One of the reasons that people are dying at such a high rate is because illegal pill presses are being used to poison street drugs with deadly amounts of fentanyl. These regulations are a step in the right direction, as we continue to focus on connecting people to harm reduction services and treatment, so they can get on a pathway to hope and healing.”

B.C.’s pill press legislation is more comprehensive than what was introduced by Alberta and the federal government in 2016. This legislation will help guard against criminals and organized crime having unlimited access to equipment to manufacture illicit drugs.

The Province will continue to undertake urgent action to escalate the response to the overdose crisis and remains committed to addressing some of the core causes of the emergency, including homelessness, poverty, trauma and the need for improved enforcement. It will also continue to work on a multi-pronged strategy targeted at gangs, drug traffickers and importers to get deadly drugs off the streets.

If you intend to or currently own, use, possess, rent or lease, or sell controlled equipment, starting January 15, 2019, you will be able to register your equipment on the Province’s new website: gov.bc.ca/pill-press (http://www.gov.bc.ca/pill-press)