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Pot charges drop in 2016, Statistics Canada reports

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Police lay fewer criminal charges for possession as Liberal government moves to legalize drug

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In some jurisdictions where marijuana is legal, incidences of drug-impaired driving rival those of alcohol-impaired driving

The number of cannabis-related offences reported to police declined for the fifth straight year, Statistics Canada said Monday as it released its annual report on police-reported crime.

There were about 55,000 offences related to marijuana reported to police in 2016, about 6,000 fewer than reported the year before, despite the percentage of Canadians consuming the drug on the rise.

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The agency said police charged 17,733 people with the possession of pot last year, a drop of about 3,600 from 2015.

The Liberal government has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana by next summer, but won’t decriminalize simple possession in the face of NDP requests to do so in the interim.

Statistics Canada said the combined rate of drug-related offences for substances other than cannabis and cocaine, which has also been on the decline, has been increasing since 2010.

That included a seven-per-cent increase in the number of police-reported offences related to the possession of drugs such as prescription drugs, including opioids such as fentanyl, LSD and so-called “date rape” drugs in 2016.

Meanwhile, the national crime rate did not change in 2016. The national crime rate has been on a downward trend since the early 1990s, although there were increases reported in both 2003 and 2015.

Statistics Canada said there were nearly 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents — excluding traffic offences — reported by police in 2016, about 27,700 more than in 2015.





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