How you feel about one key aspect of 2012 B.C. crime stats depends on your value system.
While marijuana possession cases declined by 10 per cent last year from 2011 numbers, they still accounted for 60 per cent of drug violation reports to B.C.
New figures released by Statistics Canada reveal 25,432 police-reported incidents of drug offences in B.C. last year, a 7.4-per-cent drop.
Marijuana trafficking cases slid more than 20 per cent, while importation and exportation of it declined 40 per cent. Marijuana-growing cases declined 4.6 per cent, following a 28.6-per-cent drop in 2011.
One interpretation is that marijuana remains a serious societal and policing problem. An alternate view is that our national and provincial laws do not reflect the reality that many British Columbians and Canadians indulge and are willing to break the law to do so.
That latter perspective seems to be emerging from the shadows and becoming more respectable.
Licensed medical marijuana production is increasing across North America. Just last year, Colorado and Washington state joined other U.S. states in voting to legalize pot sales to adults.
Yet our federal and provincial lawmakers cling to the outmoded war-on-drugs mindset from Washington, D.C., that lumps pot in with more serious drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine.
While enormous policing and court resources are tied up with marijuana, B.C. heroin possession cases spiked more than 30 per cent in 2012 and reported possession of crystal meth leaped 20 per cent, 110 per cent more than 2009.
A group called Sensible B.C. is gathering canvassers to get enough signatures to trigger a referendum on a proposed law that would disallow police resources from being used against simple possession of weed.
Considering its health benefits and the lack of proof that pot causes the kind of harm that alcohol causes, maybe it’s time we started treating marijuana differently.