The number of people charged with marijuana-related crimes in Canada last year was at the lowest level in 20 years, continuing a six-year downward trend as the legalization of the drug approaches.
According to police-reported crime statistics released Monday by Statistics Canada, about 13,800 people were charged with possession of marijuana in 2017, which will mark the last full year that pot will be illegal.
This compares to 28,000 people who were charged with possession in 2011.
The reason for the continued decline in charges is twofold, according to Mike Serr, the deputy chief of the Abbotsford Police Department in B.C. and chair of the drug advisory committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Police forces have been focused on the opioid crisis and all the public-health issues surrounding it,” Serr said.
“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.”