Mike’s desire to improve the safety of all Albertans was the motive for introducing the new private member’s bill in 2016: Bill 205, the Pharmacy and Drug (Pharmaceutical Equipment Control) Amendment Act. He had previously described that all throughout his life and even in his policing career, he was constantly “introduced to a problem and would always try to find a solution for it”. Therefore, Mike was determined by this new challenge to try and resolve the fentanyl issue when it was brought to his attention. Upon many discussions with medical professionals, pharmacists, and municipal and federal police to ensure an effective strategy to combat the rising fentanyl crisis: Mike described this proposal as “the first of its kind in Canada”.
Fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opiate that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. It was originally manufactured as an anesthetic for surgeries and is now used to relive severe and chronic pain, such as in cancer patients. However, as it causes the same euphoric feelings as heroin, it is associated with deadly addiction and abuse. The 274 Albertan deaths from fentanyl-related cases in 2015 alone highlighted the seriousness of the crisis.
To fight this issue, Bill 205 focused on licensing pill presses to make it difficult to use them for illegal purposes. This will reduce the ability to mass-produce counterfeit fentanyl by offenders. MLAs from all parties were in unanimous support of this bill, as well as the Alberta College of Pharmacists. As of now, Bill 205 is a part of the provincial legislation. Mike considers this the beginning of the fight against not only fentanyl but also other addictions. He states, “we must ensure there are strong intervention supports such as addiction counselling and long-term treatment beds to address the root causes of drug addiction”. Mike believes that education, prevention, and intervention in Alberta will be crucial to continue to help save lives in the future.