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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 2 - Policies and Practices In Canada

Chapter 14 - Police Practices


Conclusions of Chapter 14


















      Annual costs for drug enforcement in Canada can be estimated at between $700 million and $1 billion.

      Reduced law enforcement activities resulting from amendments to the drug legislation on cannabis could produce either substantial savings or significant reallocations of funds by police forces to other priorities.

      Due to the consensual nature of drug offences, police have been granted substantial enforcement powers and have adopted highly intrusive investigative techniques; these powers are not unlimited, however, and are subject to review by Canadian courts.

      Over 90,000 drug-related incidents are reported annually by police; more than three-quarters of these incidents relate to cannabis and over 50% of all drug-related incidents involve possession of cannabis.

      From 1991 to 2001, the percentage change in rate per 100,000 people for cannabis-related offences is +91.5thus, the rate of reported cannabis-related offences has almost doubled in the last decade.

      Reported incidents related to the cultivation of cannabis have seen a dramatic increase in the last decade.

      Reported incident rates vary widely from province to province.

      Cannabis was involved in 70% of the approximately 50,000 charges in 1999. In 43% of cases (21,381), the charge was for possession of cannabis.

      Charge rates for drug offences vary significantly from province to province.

      The uneven application of the law is of great concern and may lead to discriminatory enforcement, alienation of certain groups within society, and creation of an atmosphere of disrespect for the law; in general, it raises the issue of fairness and justice.

      Seizure statistics would seem to confirm an increase in cannabis cultivation in Canada and also a shift in police priorities regarding this offence.



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