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Report Of The Senate Committee On Illegal Drugs

Use And Cost Of Policing Cannabis

- - The annual cost of drug enforcement in Canada is estimated to be between
$700-million and $1-billion.

- - Over 90,000 drug-related incidents reported annually by police; more than
75 per cent of these incidents relate to cannabis and over 50 per cent of
all drug-related incidents involve possession of cannabis.

- - From 1991 to 2001, the percentage increase in rate per 100,000 people for
cannabis-related offences is 91.5 per cent, or nearly double

- - Cannabis was involved in 70 per cent of the approximately 50,000
drug-related charges in 1999. In 43 per cent of cases, the charge was for
possession of cannabis

- - The cost of prosecuting drug offences in 2000-2001 was $57-million, with
roughly 10 per cent or $5-million of the total budget related to
prosecuting cannabis-possession offences.

- - In 1999, it was estimated that Canadian criminal courts heard 34,000 drug
cases, which involved more than 400,000 people

- - Correctional Service Canada spends an estimated $169-million annually to
address illicit drugs through incarceration, substance-abuse programs,
treatment programs and security measures.

Policies In Other Countries


Almost all forms of involvement with narcotics are prohibited pursuant to
the Narcotics Drugs Criminal Act. Even personal drug use has been
prohibited since 1988 and police are entitled to conduct urine or blood
tests in cases where people are suspected of using drugs.


The law relating to illicit drugs is made and enforced in Australia on a
state and territorial level and varies markedly between jurisdictions. Some
states have adopted cannabis decriminalization Measures While Others Have Not.

The Netherlands

The Narcotics Act criminalizes the possession, cultivation, trafficking and
import and export of all such drugs, including cannabis and cannabis
derivatives, but penalties differ on the basis of substance. The Act
distinguishes between suppliers and users and punishes possession for the
purpose of use, not use as such.

The United States

The Controlled Substances Act categorizes and controls drugs to varying
degrees. Strictest restrictions are placed on Schedule 1 drugs, which
include marijuana. A first-time offender convicted of intending to sell
less than 50 kg of marijuana incurs a minimum $250,000 penalty and up to
five years in prison.


Public or private illicit drug use is a crime incurring penalties up to one
year in prison, a fine or diversion to a court-ordered treatment program.
The law applies to all users with no distinction as to the type of illicit
substance. As of 1999, the Ministry of Justice asked prosecutors to
prioritize treatment over incarceration for offenders.


All dependence producing substances and preparations are considered
narcotics. These cannot be cultivated, manufactured or sold and criminal
provisions apply. Preparing narcotics for personal use or for shared use
with others at no charge is not punishable where the quantities involved
are minimal.

United Kingdom

Drugs are classified in theory to the degree of harm they are considered to
cause to the individual or society when misused. Each class has different
maximum penalties that apply to prohibited activities in relation to drugs.
Cannabis recently changed classes such that possession for personal use
will not be an arrestable offence but obtain police caution.

Pubdate: Thu, 05 Sep 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Page: A8
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca
Website: The Globe and Mail: Canadian, World, Politics and Business News & Analysis
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Compiled by: Luma Muhtadie
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