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Source Countries and
Drug Transit Zones: Canada

Quick Facts
Past-year cannabis use among Canadians has doubled over the last decade. Source

Canada is both a consumer and producer of illegal drugs, especially high-potency marijuana and synthetics. In November 2007, the Canadian Government released its new National Anti-Drug Strategy. Coordinated by the Canadian Department of Justice, and in partnership with Public Safety Canada and Health Canada, the Strategy includes three action plans: preventing illicit drug use; treating those with illicit drug dependencies; and combating the production and distribution of illicit drugs. Internationally, Canadian law enforcement coordinates closely with U.S. counterparts to stem the flow of narcotics into North America and to combat transnational organized crime.

Cannabis cultivation, because of its profitability and relatively low risk, is a thriving industry in Canada. Much of the production in Canada is in the form of high-potency indoor-grown marijuana destined for export to the United States. The increasing sophistication of Canadian trafficking operations was demonstrated in the summer of 2005 when the first-ever drug smuggling tunnel was discovered on the Washington State-British Columbia border. The increase in marijuana production and trafficking in recent years has been mirrored by increases in drug consumption in Canada, as revealed by the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS).

Synthetic drugs have also become an increasing concern in Canada. Regulations instituted in early 2003 helped to reduce the diversion of Canadian pseudoephedrine to the production of methamphetamine in U.S. "superlabs." Despite this encouraging progress, methamphetamine has become an increasingly serious domestic drug problem in Canada, and the government has begun to respond through tougher sentencing and by restricting the sale of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products in some provinces.

Production of MDMA (Ecstasy) has risen dramatically in Canada in recent years, with Canada replacing the Netherlands and Belgium as the primary source of MDMA for the U.S. market. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported a dramatic increase in the seizure of MDMA crossing the U.S.-Canada border, from 1.1 million dosage units in 2004 to 5.2 million dosage units in 2006. Frequently this MDMA is mixed with other drugs, methamphetamine in particular, creating a dangerous poly-drug combination that can cause severe health problems in users.

Fortunately, the United States and Canada can build on an already robust counterdrug law enforcement relationship to address these significant drug threats. U.S. and Canadian agencies cooperate extensively through Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs), regular meetings of the Cross-Border Crime Forum, and cooperative arrangements between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and U.S. agencies such as the Coast Guard, DEA, and ICE.

Related Resources

National Anti-Drug Strategy. This website provides information on Canada's new strategy to reduce drug use.

2004 Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS), Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, November 2004. The CAS is the first national survey dedicated to alcohol, cannabis and other drug use since Canada 's Alcohol and Other Drugs Survey (CADS) in 1994.

Drug Situation in Canada, This report outlines illicit drug trafficking activity in Canada for 2006.

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, U.S. State Department, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, March 2008.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are Canada's national police service.

United States-Canada Border Drug Threat Assessment 2007, A joint assessment of the cross-border trafficking threat, published in March 2008.

World Factbook: Canada
This CIA publication provides an overview of population, government, economy, and geography of Canada.

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