Drug Crime Rate at a 20-Year High

Drug Crime Rate at a 20-Year High
Posted by CN Staff on February 24, 2004 at 06:45:00 PT
By Robert Matas
Source: Globe and Mail 
Vancouver -- Police in British Columbia and Ontario recently seized $4-million worth of marijuana being shipped by rail from Vancouver to Toronto, three pistols and $1.3-million in cash. The 705-kilogram marijuana crop had been grown indoors, mostly in single-family homes spread across the Vancouver region.However the marijuana bust barely caused a ripple in the multimillion-dollar drug trade in Canada. The network of so-called grow ops - indoor marijuana-cultivation centres - is expanding faster than police can close them down.
Canada's drug-crime rate, as reported by police, now stands at a 20-year high, an increase of 42 per cent between 1992 and 2002, Statistics Canada reported yesterday. Much of the increase can be attributed to a rise in offences for possession of cannabis, researchers Norm Desjardins and Tina Hotton found.Police statistics show that cannabis offences increased by 81 per cent over the decade, the researchers state in a report issue by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.Yet, the more police do, the more they find. Police across Canada have seized more than one million marijuana plants annually for the past four years. Despite their effort, sites for cultivation of marijuana grew sixfold from 1993 to 2001, spreading from British Columbia to the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the researchers state.But Criminologist Neil Boyd, who teaches at Simon Fraser University, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about whether more Canadians are smoking up.The statistics raise issues about enforcement, not about marijuana use, he said yesterday.Surveys have found that the rates of marijuana use in Canada are not as high as 25 years ago, Prof. Boyd said. "What has changed in 25 years is that grass is now exported from Canada. Cocaine and heroin use are down. What is up is prosecution for grow ops." "It's not getting worse," Prof. Boyd said. "What we have is a crisis in how to respond."The worst thing about marijuana is the violence that is associated with the drug trade, he said. "The trade is much more dangerous than the drug can ever be," he said. And he urged the government to take the prospect of profit out of drug deals and regulate trafficking.Statistics Canada identified Thunder Bay as having the highest rate of drug offences reported by the police, with 571 offences per 100,000 population. The 15 municipalities in the Vancouver region were second, with 468 offences per 100,000. Montreal had 215; Toronto 211; Calgary 206; and Winnipeg 200.B.C. continues to have the highest rate of drug-related incidents, a dubious record that the province has held for years. With 544 police reports of drug crimes per 100,000, B.C. has about twice the national average.Sergeant Doug Adam of the Thunder Bay police department said the drug problem in the Ontario city was serious. "But it's a problem all over North America," he said. "I don't think we are unique."The police force dealt with 331 drug offences in 2001, compared with 222 only four years earlier, the department's annual report states. About two-thirds of the offences involved marijuana.Vancouver, which was the first city in Canada to have a unit designated to dismantle grow ops, has been extremely successful, said Constable Sarah Bloor, of the Vancouver Police Department. In the past year, the unit closed down 378 grow ops. The drug unit arrested 744 people, leading to more than 1,000 drug-related charges."Drugs are not going away, unfortunately, from our streets," Constable Bloor said. "We continue to see that as an ongoing problem for us to deal with."Drugs and crime Rates of drug offences reported by police among census metropolitan areas for 2002.Thunder Bay: 571Vancouver: 468Victoria: 459Trois-Rivieres: 364St. Catherines-Niagara: 316Saskatoon: 306Gatineau*: 287Sherbrooke: 280London: 269Quebec: 252Halifax: 249Hamilton: 245Saint John: 241Montreal: 215Toronto: 211Calgary: 206Winnipeg: 200Regina: 198Ottawa**: 188Saguenay: 187Windsor: 186Sudbury: 180St. John's: 174Edmonton: 166Kitchener: 151- * includes the Gatineau portion of the Ottawa-Gatineau CMA- ** includes the Ottawa portion of the Ottawa-Gatineau CMASOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA Note: Flourishing grow ops contribute to rise; Thunder Bay drug-offence capital of Canada, new statistics show.Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Robert MatasPublished: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - Page A8 Copyright: 2004 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles:Few Drug Users Going To Jail, Statscan Finds To Stop Grow-ops? Legalize Pot Hunter Favours Legalization of Marijuana
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