Office of National Drug Control Policy


Canada is both a consumer and producer of illegal drugs, especially high-potency marijuana and synthetics. In November 2007, the Canadian government released its 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 domestic consumption or export to the United States. 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 with tougher laws against production and trafficking 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. According to NDIC, seizure data show that the amount of MDMA seized along the U.S.-Canada border increased 156 percent from 2007 to 2008, and that more MDMA was seized at the Northern border in 2008 than in any year since 2005. MDMA seizure totals declined in 2009, but still exceeded 2007 totals. 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. In 2009, Canada announced the Synthetic Drug Initiative, the first Canadian strategy focused on a single class of drugs. Its goal is to eliminate illegal synthetic drug production and distribution in Canada through enforcement, deterrence, and prevention, and to inhibit the diversion of precursor chemicals from foreign and domestic sources. In March 2011, Parliament passed Bill C-475, “Tackling Crystal Meth and Ecstasy,” which criminalizes the possession of precursors to methamphetamine and ecstasy. The Bill states that “no person shall possess, produce, sell or import anything knowing that it will be used to produce or traffic in a substance referred to in [the relevant sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act].”

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, regular meetings of the Cross-Border Crime Forum, and cooperative arrangements between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and U.S. agencies such as the Coast Guard, DEA, and ICE. ONDCP is also engaging in close consultation with the Government of Canada as it works to develop a new National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy.

Related Resources