Canada’s real marijuana problem

Canada’s real marijuana problem

No drug comes close to cannabis when it comes to the number of criminal offences

A protester lights a joint during a 4-20 marijuana rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, April 20, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

A protester lights a joint during a 4-20 marijuana rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, April 20, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Many arguments are made in favour of legalizing marijuana. But by far the most compelling is the potential impact on the criminal justice system. The sheer number of Canadians who are busted for possession, trafficking, production and distribution of the leafy green plant—more than 160 per every 100,000 people—dwarfs that for any other drug, including far more problematic substances like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the enforcement of marijuana laws has been responsible for the overwhelming majority of drug arrests, about 75 per cent of all reported drug crime,” says Neil Boyd, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.

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Boyd adds that legalizing pot would immediately allow police to focus limited resources on more “worthwhile” endeavours. It could also lead to a reduction in other types of crime that are related to marijuana, including rip-offs of marijuana grow ops or potentially violent conflicts between buyers and sellers. “You can’t currently take a dishonest marijuana distributor to court or call the Better Business [Bureau] to complain,” Boyd says.

Legalization could even reduce the country’s overall crime rate, since roughly three per cent of all current Criminal Code incidents are related to pot. However, any decrease would likely be offset by an increase in other types of infractions as police focus their attention on more serious criminal activity—one of very few instances where a jump in crime statistics could be celebrated as a good thing.



    Canada’s real marijuana problem

    1. this government only wants to take the business out of the hands of the most desperate , often minority and recent immigrants and give it to big business , big corporate producers with expensive and very restrictive regulations not justified by science. what are these desperate individuals going to do when you take away their ability to make money with marijuana? will there be any real change in the above situation when everything except the big corporate producers are still criminalized?

      • The reality is it is not the desperate dealer that is the problem but the organized crime that sells to the dealer. They rarely bet busted and legalization would shut down that revenue stream for them.

    2. The government will sell pot that is so S####y and expensive that you’ll have to smoke a half a bag to get a buzz. If you think street dealers are going to go out of business and the young won’t be able to get their hands on MJ you are all seriously delusional. This is the sole reason why Justin Buttercup and the libtards are in power. Wake up Canada before its too late.

      • Do you think that the young are not now getting their hands on it?

        One of the benefits of legalization will be quality controls and standard products. Like alcohol you wil be able to buy stronger or weaker varieties but you will know what you are getting. Right now you could be buying parsley cut with crystal meth and you would not know it until you try it. Maybe that is your idea of fun, but most people want to know what they are getting.

        • Hate to burst your bubble but a program called The Fifth Estate (maybe you heard of it) told of a study done by a Dalhouse University (maybe you heard of it (scientist) who took random supplements like Ginseng off the shelves of health food stores and tested to see what the bottles contained. Turned out they didn’t contain what they said they did. Instead, they contained things like house plant DNA. Of course the scientist contact Health Canada’s supervisor for supplements and she wasn’t concerned. The NY times was very concerned and printed the results. The attorney generals in NY and other states

          • We’re concerned too. They did there own testing and found that the supplements they tested came out worse. So you shouldn’t really trust that Health Canada is going to make sure that cannabis isn’t cut with something or that what you buy is what it says it is. Do you know what the spokesman for Health Canada told the Fifth Estate in explanation for why Health Canada failed to act on the Dalhousie study? She said “we don’t know what type of DNA testing he utilized….” Hello???? Read the bloody study and act on it. People are getting ripped off…..the people you work for….taxpayers.

          • The 5th Estate isn’t the cornerstone of empircal evidence. And ginseng isn’t regulated in any meaningful way and certainly nowhere near a rigorously as cannabis will be.

        • Unless the main benefit is priced under $10 a gram, the current user won’t care about anything the government can offer. Most people already have a source they trust and they won’t pay more to confirm that their pot is pot.

        • Anyone with the most basic experience could tell the difference between parsley and cannabis. And with the country awash with cheap cannabis why would anyone sell meth laced parsley since the profit margin would be so much lower? And please no nonsense about getting the customer hooked on stronger drugs, that only happens in Dragnet and DARE class.

      • “Justin Buttercup and the libtards”

        Oh yea, your contributions are of real value.

        You obviously have no clue.

    3. Boyd has provided a simplified version of what impacts may occur with legalization. What he fails to discuss or recognize is the new crimes that come with legalization… Prices within dispensaries will still limit those on the street who will resort to robberies and rip offs at sales points. Street sales will still continue and organized crime will continue through front businesses to enter into the legitimate industry. A simple check of the crime issues in Washington and Colorado state including the emergence of new crimes would provide a more accurate picture of what to expect. Medicinal marijuana has seen the emergence of a new crime where medical staff and doctors have been threatened with violence when they refuse to issue medical certificates, a crime that did not exist before.
      It would be prudent for SFU to prepare to collect data upon legalization that will reflect true impacts and not one side to the story.

      • Doctors being threatened for not isssuing medical cannabis certificates? What a hokum myth. If that type of activity were true our doctors would be under a scourge of opiate addicts threatening them for neonopioids, a class of drug that are truly addictive and make withdrawing addicts actually get violent. You can get cannabis anywhere for a cheap price without resorting to thratening a doctor. Good marks for creative writing though, this bogus theory will go in the Reefer Madness file.

        • Well Brian, the incidents are actually document with the last one occurring in Kelowna BC and and charges laid. The doctor left Kelowna and moved out of province.

          When the police lay charges they are document, it’s called facts!

    4. The full decriminalization process can be done well if people let it happen. Let prescriptions be handled one way, while independent dispensaries can be subjected to the same standards as other craft producers. Many such as ours at are very different from a “real problem” in that we submit all our products for testing and post the results online, and pay taxes in full. There are many others in the market who similarly take their product and their duty to their customers and society very seriously. One thing that is curious is that there is currently an ongoing fight for the right to be tested. But the labs want to do it, and we are confident that it will work out. This can all work out for everyone if we let it :)