Newsbrief: Marijuana Charges Down 30% in Canada 8/6/04

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In a report released July 28, Statistics Canada announced that the number of marijuana possession charges brought last year was down 30% from the year before. The decline in pot possession cases contributed mightily to an 8% overall decrease in drug prosecutions, the first decline since 1993, the government reporting agency said.

Statistics Canada suggested the decline in marijuana arrests even as marijuana use is increasing in Canada (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/347/canada.shtml) may be partially explained by the unsettled politics of marijuana in the country. Last year, the period in question, saw a "summer of legal weed" in Ontario as the courts grappled with the very constitutionality of marijuana prohibition, as well as lots of talk about the Liberal government's "decriminalization" bill, which Prime Minister Martin has promised to reintroduce this year.

The decline, said Statistics Canada, "may have been, in part, a result of a climate of uncertainty among police, given recent court rulings questioning the constitutionality of current laws regarding cannabis possession. In addition, legislation was introduced in 2003 in the House of Commons to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis."

In a seeming paradox, British Columbia, with its reputation as a marijuana user's paradise as well as a thriving Vancouver hard drug scene, was the only province to report an increase in drug arrests last year. In BC, drug arrests were up 6%, including a 3% increase in marijuana arrests. But, as Statistics Canada pointed out, BC has reported the highest rate of drug crimes of any province for the past two decades.

Across Canada, more than 41,000 were arrested for marijuana possession alone in 2003, nearly half of all drug arrests. An additional 8,000 were arrested for growing pot and 10,000 more were arrested for trafficking.

Read the Statistics Canada report at http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/040728/d040728a.htm online.

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Issue #349, 8/6/04 Medical Marijuana Victory in Detroit | Supreme Court to Fast Track Effort to End Federal Sentencing Chaos | Massachusetts Needle Exchange Activists Hold Day of Protest, Demand Action from Legislature | Newsbrief: Defendant Can Post Pictures of Narcotics Agents in Info Search, Federal Court Says | Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Wins Legal Victory, Still Alive | Newsbrief: Justice Department Backs Off on Plan to Destroy Library Asset Forfeiture Pamphlets | Newsbrief: Israeli Soldiers to Get Cannabis Therapy for Stress? | Newsbrief: Marijuana Charges Down 30% in Canada | Newsbrief: California Narc Indicted in Rudy Cardenas Killing | Newsbrief: Federal Prosecutors in Seattle Use Patriot Act in Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: Bolivian Coca Growers Call for Referendum on Legal Coca | Newsbrief: Highway Travel Advisory -- South Dakota/Sturgis Rally | Press Release: Students for Sensible Drug Policy Activists to Take "Skate for Justice" Through New York State Tomorrow (8/7) | Media Scan: Peter Moskos in the Baltimore Sun | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar
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