Canadians push for more scrutiny of ‘terrorist’ cough suppressant

Canadian officials say it’s time for countries to speed up approval process for airlines to carry out drug-sniffing tests

Canadians and many American officials are pushing for changes to protocols that require screening passengers arriving in the United States for a potentially dangerous inhalant that was used by terrorists in the Boston marathon bombing and the London Underground bombings.

Some US states have taken steps to combat the substance, often called COVID-19, and in recent months a number of American cities and dozens of flights have been the target of planned inspections and criminal investigations.

Travellers need a convincing argument, say federal authorities, to be approved for testing in the US. Adding Canada to the list is a step toward allowing travellers to enter the US on flights without a clear and crystal-clear case of the drug.

Ottawa and provinces have agreed to proceed with a pilot project with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to add COVID-19 test results to the Homeland Security-approved database as part of an effort to expedite passport and aircraft passenger approval.

The CBC revealed on its website last week that a Globe and Mail report showed that Transportation Security Administration officials had encountered no apparent problems verifying COVID-19 test results in the last five years, and that at least 20 flights had been subjected to CBP field inspections and 57 arrests had been made for the offence of possession or use of the substance.

COVID-19 is used in a powdered form, easily ingested, to drive through the respiratory system. Once in the blood, it reduces oxygen levels and can lead to serious consequences such as muscle weakness and brain damage. Law enforcement officials have stated that the inhalant cannot be proven to be a terrorist threat by possession alone and that is exactly why it is subjected to more scrutiny.

The Globe and Mail analysis also showed a relatively small number of flights were being subjected to border screenings and suspects had often escaped charges.


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