The lowest marijuana crime rate charges in 2017 were the lowest in two decades, a report by Statistics Canada on Monday showed.
Last year’s marijuana crime rate chargers were part of a continuing downward trend as Canada inches closer to a nationwide legalization of cannabis.
The police-reported crime statistics showed that 13,800 people were charged with possession of marijuana in comparison to 28,000 in 2011.
The main reason behind this spiraling downfall is the police’s focus on the opioid crisis as opposed to marijuana.
“Police forces have been focused on the opioid crisis and all the public-health issues surrounding it,” Mike Serr, the deputy chief of the Abbotsford Police Department in BC and chair of the drug advisory committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, told CBC.
As legalization nears, the police are also not finding charging people with marijuana possession as a priority.
“And as we get closer to legalization, more police officers are using their discretion when dealing with minor infractions — especially [those] not involved with organized crime.”
The plunge was the sharpest in the northern Ontario communities of Thunder Bay and the greater Sudbury area, where possession charges dwindled by more than 40 percent from 2016.
However, three metropolitan areas witnessed an increase in possession charges, these areas include Barrie, Ont., Kingston, Ont. and Saguenay, Que.