Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which is primarily prescribed to cancer patients in severe pain. It can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, and 100 times stronger than morphine. Analogues (drugs with a similar composition) can be 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Two milligrams of pure fentanyl (equivalent to just a few grains of salt) is enough to kill the average adult, and in 2018 police seized enough to kill seven million. This drug has been linked to an estimated 4000 drug overdose deaths in Canada in 2017. It should be no surprise, then, that fentanyl has been listed as a Schedule I substance in Canada, the most serious category of drugs.
China is considered to be a major source of the fentanyl supply in Canada. Fentanyl is also supplied by illegal drug labs, and via patches that are either sold by or stolen from people they were prescribed to. The drug can be swallowed, smoked, snorted, or injected. It can be sold in either powder or pill form, or cut into other drugs. The drug has neither taste nor smell, thus even drug dealers may be unaware if another drug is laced with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is easy to transport, and produces a high profit margin, which can be tempting to those engaged in the drug trade. However, sentences can be severe for those convicted of a drug offence. Possession is the only hybrid drug offence, which allows the Crown Attorney an option on how to proceed. For a summary conviction, you could face a penalty of a $1,000 fine and/or up to 6 months imprisonment for a first offence, or a $2,000 fine and/or up to one year imprisonment for each subsequent conviction. For an indictable conviction, the maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment.
There are also a number of drug offences which are indictable only, and carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. However, each carries a different minimum penalty. If convicted of trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking, the minimum is one year imprisonment. For importing or exporting, the penalty is one year for an amount of 1 kilogram or less, or 2 years minimum for an amount over 1 kilogram. The production of fentanyl carries a minimum sentence of two years imprisonment, which increases to a minimum of 3 years if certain aggravating factors are present.
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