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August 19, 2021

Nine of ten Canadian banknotes contain traces of cocaine

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

(Insert Chris Farley/Rick James/Courtney Love joke here.)

To be sure, most people see Canadians as toque-wearing ice fishers who swig maple syrup and help old ladies across the road.

But who knew that, on the world’s scale, we should be the ones draped in a cream white blazer, fifty pounds underweight and sniffling while we blast Lady Gaga CDs?

According to the Canadian Press, a new study out of the U.S. shows that a staggering 85 per cent of Canadian banknotes contain trace amounts of cocaine.

Researchers took bills mostly from the Toronto and Sarnia, Ont., areas, but found up to 2,530 micrograms (the equivalent of about 100 grains of sand) of coke on some of the notes tested.

The scene wasn’t any better south of the border where, even without the true, north, strong and free-base habits of Steven Page, an impressive 90 per cent of U.S. bills contained amounts of the drug.

While the Canadian study was admittedly limited (they only tested a fraction of the bills they did in the States), it makes you wonder which cities outside Ontario contain a good chunk of dirty bills.

The L.A. Times found a breakdown of the cities tested in the States and can pretty much pinpoint where the coke hotspots are around the country; Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, Orlando and L.A. scored the highest.

That’s definitely the kind of info I’d like to have for Canadian cities, if for nothing else than to make wise-cracking observations like, Hmm, Detroit … I wonder if they did a few more eightballs this whole auto industry collapse could’ve been avoided.

In any case, maybe it’s my naivety but I was pretty shocked by the way Canada tested. Yuegang Zuo, the study’s leader had this to say about the findings:

“I’m not sure why we’ve seen this apparent increase, but it could be related to the economic downturn, with stressed people turning to cocaine.”

Whether that’s actually the case is up for debate. What isn’t, though, is – considering Chinese and Japanese currency showed less than 20 per cent contamination – Canada has now proved itself a world leader in tainted drug money.

Stick that in your toque.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...