MPP Harris pushes through bill to ban pill presses fueling illegal opioidsSeptember 21, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 21, 2017
MPP Harris pushes through bill to ban pill presses fueling illegal opioids
Legislature votes to pass Bill 126, the Illegal Pill Press Act
Queen’s Park — Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris’ Bill 126, the Illegal Pill Press Act has moved one step closer to protecting Ontarians from street dealers using pill press machines to produce counterfeit – often killer – opioids.
“I ask every member here, why, if we can save one life, if we can speak to the pain that so many are facing, why wouldn’t we take one simple step to ban the illegal use of illicit pill making machines that I think we can all agree shouldn’t be allowed to cause further tragic stories throughout our great province?” Harris asked shortly before all parties voted to support the bill. “If we can save just one life with this one small step I feel it is our duty to do so….and I ask that you take that step with me today.”
Bill 126, proposes to combat the proliferation of illegal pills – often fentanyl-laced pills – made to look like more common street drugs. Once law, every person convicted of illegally possessing a pill press would be liable to:
(a) a first offence maximum fine of $200,000 or imprisonment up to six months;
(b) a second offence maximum fine of $350,000 or imprisonment up to one year;
(c) a third or subsequent offence maximum fine of $500,000 or imprisonment up to two years.
“I’m proud to say that today’s debate and vote has moved us one step closer to protecting our children, and families from the tragic outcomes of illegal and counterfeit opioids that have impacted communities across Ontario,” Harris said. “Two Ontarians die every day from Opioid abuse or inadvertent use. In my area of Waterloo Region alone, 20 people died of opioid overdoses in between January and April 2017.”
Harris noted during debate how dealers can easily purchase pill presses online, then take powder – including powerful opioids like fentanyl – and press it into pills that appear legitimate. As these are far from professional pharmaceutical labs, not all pills contain the same concentration, in some cases leading to “hot patches” of a lethal dose in a single pill.
Recognizing that there is no single solution that will eliminate the breadth of the opioid crisis, Harris added that, “the measures proposed by Bill 126 can be key pieces to complement a requisite broader strategy from governments at all levels.”
Harris said he looks forward to the next steps including committee consideration and third reading debate to see Bill 126 become law and protect the lives of Ontarians that illegal pill presses have put at risk.
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