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Customs will be allowed to open all international mail to check for drugs

December 15, 2016

In the hope of countering the rise in opioid-related overdose and death, exacerbated by the increased availability of illicit fentanyl across Canada, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-37 which will amend the Customs Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Under the Customs Act, officers at the border currently have the authority to open and inspect most packages entering Canada, if they suspect the package contains contraband such as drugs.

However, they have to request permission from either the sender or the recipient to open mail weighing 30 grams or less, which usually consists of letters or other private or business correspondence. If no permission is received, the mail is returned to sender.

Unfortunately, this exception allows illegal importers of dangerous substances, such as pure fentanyl, to ship many separate small envelopes, weighing 30 grams or less, knowing some will get through and that there will be no legal consequences for the importer if some of the packages are detained and sent back.

Bill C-37 would remove the 30 grams or less mail exception from the Customs Act, so that Canada Border Services Agency officers could open international mail of any weight, should they have reasonable grounds to suspect the item may contain prohibited, controlled or regulated goods.

Amendments to the CDSA would prevent the uncontrolled import into Canada of devices that can be used to manufacture illicit drugs, such as pill presses and encapsulators.

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