Too Much Police Time Going To Pot?

Too Much Police Time Going To Pot?
Posted by CN Staff on February 24, 2004 at 06:55:11 PT
By Sue Bailey, Canadian Press 
Source: Globe and Mail 
Ottawa  The federal government's plan to decriminalize pot possession would free up millions of dollars and thousands of police hours, the latest statistics suggest. Police laid a record number of drug-related charges in 2002 and most offences involved marijuana, Statistics Canada reported Monday.Seventy-five per cent of 93,000 drug-related incidents in 2002 involved pot. Almost three-quarters of those were possession offences, and more than half of those convicted were fined.
"The police-reported drug-crime rate has risen an estimated 42 per cent since the early 1990s and now stands at a 20-year high," the agency said.The numbers highlight a rift between police, who support tight enforcement of pot laws, and more tolerant attitudes by the public, politicians and the courts.The statistics were released as MPs on Parliament Hill began to debate a bill to decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of pot  about 15 to 20 joints. Instead of a criminal record, the bill proposes fines of between $100 to $400.The bill maintains or increases penalties for large-scale growers and traffickers.If passed, the bill would appear to free up police from laying most possession charges.Critics have long argued that officers could divert investigative hours and millions of dollars toward fighting other crime if they eased up on such anti-drug efforts.Law professor Alan Young, who has crusaded for reformed marijuana laws, says at least some police forces seem to be "upping the ante" with vigilant anti-pot enforcement that swims against the political tide."The entire time that this government has been talking about decriminalization ... the police have not adjusted their priorities in the least."If anything, police have logged numbers "that are good for them to manipulate," he said in an interview from Toronto where he teaches at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School.The Canadian Professional Police Association, representing 54,000 rank-and-file members, declined to comment Monday. It has vigorously fought attempts to decriminalize pot, saying police should have the discretion to do more than issue tickets  particularly in cases where sales are being racked up in school yards, for example.Police groups and other critics have also attacked plans to relax pot laws without a national drug strategy or reliable roadside tests to snare stoned drivers.They also say 15 grams is too much to equate with casual use. Prime Minister Paul Martin has said too many young people are being saddled with criminal records for being caught with small amounts. But he has also left open the door to changing the allowable limit and related fines.The decriminalization bill is needed to level the pot enforcement field across Canada, Liberal MP Wayne Easter argued Monday in the Commons."In some areas you get a slap on the wrist, in other areas you get a criminal record."The Statistics Canada report also found that, between 1992 and 2002, about one in 10 homicides involved trafficking or the settling of drug-related accounts. Sixty per cent of those killings involved cocaine, 20 per cent were linked to pot, 5 per cent to heroin and 15 per cent to other unspecified drugs.The rate of drug-related incidents was highest in B.C., followed by Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.Among metropolitan areas in 2002, the highest rates of police-reported drug offences were in Thunder Bay, Ont., Vancouver, and Victoria.Most charges involved young adults aged 18 to 24 followed by youths aged 12 to 17. Newshawk: kaptinemoSource: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Sue Bailey, Canadian Press Published:  February 23, 2004 Copyright: 2004 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles:Drug Crime Rate at a 20-Year High Drug Users Going To Jail, Statscan Finds To Stop Grow-ops? Legalize Pot Hunter Favours Legalization of Marijuana
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on February 24, 2004 at 09:38:57 PT
Do the police want their hours "freed up"?
Do they see that as a threat or an opportunity? I must wonder.What job could be easier for them than busting potheads?We smell, we advertise, we're easy to find.By and large we're pretty nonviolent.The police get hugs from citizen groups when they bust us.Why would they want their time freed up? For what?Maybe they need to free up some time for digging up all the bodies of the women who were being murdered by that pig farmer in BC. The police were so busy busting potheads they didn't have time to look for the women when they first went missing.Now they at least owe it to them to find all of their bodies.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment