Nearly 75,000 Canadians were busted for marijuana offences in 2013

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      New data from Statistics Canada reveal that last year almost 59,000 Canadians found themselves in trouble with the law for the simple possession of marijuana.

      That marks a 28-percent increase in the rate (per 100,000) at which Canadians were charged with possession compared to 2003.

      Over the same 10-year period, the rate of offences for the trafficking, distribution, and production of cannabis was down 35 percent. There were just over 14,300 such offences in 2013.

      In a telephone interview, Mark Mander, drug abuse committee chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), was quick to note that a number of factors could account for those shifts. For example, he said, people facing serious charges could be making plea bargains on lesser offences.

      Regardless, Mander continued, the statistics indicate that marijuana is consuming a lot of police officers’ time.

      In August 2013, Mander took the lead on a CACP campaign advocating for a “ticketing option” for marijuana possession. He argues that this would allow police to issue penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana without involving Crown prosecutors, lab technicians, judges, and other officials required to process a criminal case.

      “If you look at the number of people going through the system, it [ticketing] would free up officers’ time and it would free up the time of the courts,” he told the Straight.

      The Ministry of Justice referred questions on marijuana enforcement to the RCMP, which did not respond to a request for an interview.

      Dana Larsen, a campaign coordinator for Sensible B.C., argued that a simple possession charge has become a more serious punishment than it once was.

      “Even just being charged and not being convicted can cause you problems,” he said. “There are plenty of examples of people who were never convicted but who were simply charged and then blocked from entering the U.S....The process of going through that can be very challenging, time-consuming, and humiliating for people.”

      Drug offences (encompassing everything from possession to trafficking and marijuana to heroin) is the only broad category of crime for which Statistics Canada reports the rate of offences increased between 2003 and 2013. Violent crime was down 24 percent, property crime was down 41 percent, “other Criminal Code offences” was down eight percent, and “other federal statute violations” was down 30 percent. Meanwhile, the rate of drug offences was up 13 percent.

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      16 Comments

      Alfredo

      Jul 30, 2014 at 3:08pm

      In 2011 CBC reported "Almost three quarters of all cases handled by federal prosecutors last year involved drugs, according to the annual report from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada."
      That's a small industry of plea-bargaining Lawyers who would be looking for another job without the "criminalization" of pot-people.

      KC

      Jul 30, 2014 at 11:47pm

      Festung Kanada.

      So...

      Jul 31, 2014 at 8:50am

      Can we legalize all drugs yet? Or is Harper Pro-organized crime?

      Craig

      Jul 31, 2014 at 9:04am

      To Alfredo's point: the Federal Prosecution Service of Canada handles mainly drug offences because the power to prosecute almost all other criminal offences is vested in the Provincial Crown, which handles the vast majority of criminal prosecutions. There is no "small industry of plea-bargaining lawyers" as you have so ignorantly proposed. There may be two or three criminal defence lawyers in this province who are able to set up and entire practice around defending marijuana charges, and I can assure you that they are constantly doing trials. If your point is that marijuana offences are a drain on public resources, you are correct, but don't stoke the flames of public opinion against the legal profession with your ignorance.

      stefan

      Jul 31, 2014 at 10:25am

      So.. this is still happening eh? Isn't there other drastically more important things our law enforcement folks should be focused on? It's 2014. People smoke pot. Can we move on now?

      Lance

      Jul 31, 2014 at 10:39am

      What a massive waste of money and resources.

      Sigh at this Country...

      Jul 31, 2014 at 10:41am

      We used to be cool. Like pot is something new. It's been around for Decades and now people are getting in trouble for smoking it? What a horrible Country we've turned into now.. What's next?

      Jim

      Jul 31, 2014 at 10:55am

      I heard some stats from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) that went something like this.

      1965 Before the War on Drugs

      91% of murder cases in the US were solved.

      2011 40 or so years into the War on Drugs began.

      61% of murders were solved.

      Similar declines occurred for rape, robberies etc.

      What happened??

      Pretty simple. More cops arresting for things like cannabis (600,000+ arrests in 2013) = less resources for serious crimes like homicide, rape, burglary, assault etc.

      They didn't go into Canadian numbers, but I would suspect the trend to be similar.

      Jim

      Jul 31, 2014 at 11:01am

      "Every time a police officer makes an arrest for drugs, that's several hours out of his or her day not spent going after real criminals. As the country has been investing more and more of its resources into prosecuting drug 'crime,' the rate of unsolved violent crime has been steadily increasing. Where are our priorities here?" asked retired lieutenant commander Diane Goldstein, another LEAP speaker.

      Tommy Khang

      Jul 31, 2014 at 12:12pm

      But if we legalize pot and go to a ticketing system like in Seattle, won't the left get all angry because then the poor drug users in the DTES won't be able to afford to pay their tickets for public consumption?