VICTORIA – Marijuana possession cases still account for 60 per cent of drug violation reports to police in B.C., but the number of cases declined 10 per cent in 2012, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.
There were 25,432 police-reported incidents of drug offences in B.C. last year, a 7.4 per cent decline from 2011. Marijuana trafficking cases declined more than 20 per cent to 1,006 incidents, and importation and exportation of marijuana declined by 40 per cent.
Marijuana growing cases declined 4.6 per cent, following a 28.6 per cent drop in 2011.
Heroin possession cases jumped more than 30 per cent to 500, and heroin trafficking cases rose 37 per cent to 224 incidents in 2012.
There were 653 reported cases of possession of methamphetamine (crystal meth), a 20 per cent increase over 2011, and 110 per cent more than 2009.
The decline in B.C. marijuana cases comes as licensed medical marijuana production increases across North America. Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize sale to adults last year.
In July, Elections BC gave approval in principle for a petition drive aimed at decriminalizing marijuana possession in B.C. Marijuana activist Dana Larsen has formed a group called Sensible B.C., aimed at forcing a change to B.C. law that would prevent police resources from being used against simple possession of marijuana.
Sensible B.C. is using the same voter initiative system that forced the repeal of the harmonized sales tax in B.C. The group will have 90 days starting Sept. 9 to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered provincial voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts.
If that target is met, a province-wide vote would be held on the proposed law.
Individuals and groups have until Aug. 12 to register with Elections BC to oppose the initiative by advertising and collecting signatures against the initiative.