The Alberta government has written a letter marked “URGENT” to the federal Liberals, requesting that the drug W-18 be added to all lists that specify and identify illegal drugs.
Back in December, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) seized approximately four kilograms of a white powder drug and tests by Health Canada confirmed it was W-18. Alberta Health Services says W-18 is easily 100 times more powerful and toxic than fentanyl.
Provincial Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says the urgency around making W-18 illegal is paramount. “This is a very, very dangerous, serious thing. We should have parents talking about W-18 with their children, neighbours should be talking to each other about it. People need to fully understand W-18 can be lethal even after taking a very, very small dose.”
Ganley points out that W-18 can be ingested in various forms. “It can be cut into fentanyl pills, it can be cut into heroin, it can be cut into cocaine. Obviously, W-18 can be sold as a number of different things, so people need to be very, very cautious.”
As for when the province anticipates hearing something back from the federal government, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman is optimistic. “I’m always very hopeful that, when it comes to life and death situations, we’re moving at breakneck speed.”
Hoffman is worried that the kits Alberta Health Services distributed to medical clinics to deal with fentanyl overdoses may not be adequate in dealing with a W-18 overdose.
“It looks like W-18 might be so toxic that even two vials of Naloxone, the antidote to fentanyl, might not be sufficient. We may have to up the amount of Naloxone we have available. Ultimately, everyone needs to be aware of how toxic and dangerous W-18 truly is.”
Meanwhile, the Progressive Conservatives have come up with their own solution to reduce illicit drug use and crime.
The Tory MLA for Calgary-West, and Justice and Solicitor General critic, Mike Ellis says drugs like fentanyl and W-18 need to be targeted at the root.
“The offenders always seem to have a pill press. When we consulted with stakeholders, including members of the medical and pharmaceutical communities, as well as police, nobody could give a valid reason why someone would own a pill press other than to use it as a pharmaceutical dispensary.”
Ellis says Bill 205 carries hefty fines for those caught with illegal pill presses.
“The penalties may be steep, yes, but it’s important to remember that criminals manufacturing these deadly drugs are becoming multi-millionaires and profiting off the lives of innocent Albertans.”
Ellis says he’s received positive support and feedback from Hoffman and looks forward to debating the bill.