The number of cannabis-related offenses reported to police declined for the fifth straight year, according to a yearly report on police-reported crime released by Statistics Canada.
There were about 6,000 fewer marijuana related crimes than reported the year before, even though the number of Canadians consuming the cannabis is on the rise.
Statistics Canada said police charged 17,733 people with the possession of pot last year, which is a significant drop of about 3,600 from 2015.
They also announced that there were nearly 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents reported by police in 2016, which is about 27,700 more than in 2015.
Marijuana charges are on the rise in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec, while in the rest of Canada cannabis-related charges are declining ahead of Ottawa’s plans to legalize the drug.
More serious charges of trafficking were down, while production and importation charges remained flat but relatively low. This trend was observed across most provinces, and in many of them, the rate of charges is the lowest on record.
In other police districts, the decrease of charges may be a question of resources and capacity, according to the president of the Canadian Police Association, Tom Stamatakis. He said that the police forces haven’t targeted simple possession cases and looked for small amount owners “for years”.
“The focus is on high-level trafficking, organized crime, and other related activities that are more serious and have a bigger impact on the community,” Stamatakis said. “I would anticipate that police forces are redirecting priorities on the basis that marijuana will become legal in the near future.”.
Historically, Quebec police officers have been tolerant of cannabis possession more so than other provinces. In 1998, there was an average of only 53 people charged with possession per 100,000 in the province. Canada’s overall rate at the time was an alarming 76 per 100,000.
The rate in Quebec has risen ever since, following the Canadian trend, but still registering lower every year until now.
Source: CBC News