Canadian police are looking to treat fatal overdoses as homicides, arguing that holding drug dealers responsible for deaths could act as a deterrent, reports the Globe and Mail.

Manslaughter charges for dealers alleged to have sold drugs that led to overdoses are infrequent, but they may be catching on: The Edmonton Police Service at the end of last month charged an accused dealer with manslaughter in the January death of a man from a fentanyl overdose. It was the first time the EPS laid manslaughter charges related to a fentanyl overdose.

In Alberta, some police hope charging alleged dealers with manslaughter as well as trafficking will help stem the epidemic.

But the efficacy of the approach has been questioned.

Neither RCMP in Alberta nor the Calgary Police Service have used manslaughter charges related to fentanyl deaths, their spokeswomen said this week. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecutors are increasingly turning to manslaughter-type charges in drug cases, but even in a country known for more aggressively punishing people in the drug trade, this approach is rare.

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