The Nature and Extent of Marihuana Possession in British Columbia

The illegal status of marihuana has been the subject of debate for decades.1 Quantitative accounts of the police response to marihuana possession offences using data from Statistics Canada are frequently quoted in the media, by advocate groups, political parties, policy makers, police, and by academics to support their positions. However, there is very little discussion or analyses into the challenges associated with the way Statistics Canada collects and reports this data. The purpose of this report is to examine marihuana possession offences in British Columbia from the number of recorded police seizures of marihuana to the number of individuals who received a criminal conviction for the offence in order to argue that the information reported in the media and used by many researchers vastly overestimates the number of people charge, convicted, and incarcerated for marihuana possession in British Columbia from 2009 to 2011.


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