Frank Discussion Cannabis Facts for Canadians

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Annual Marijuana Arrests in the U.S.
100 arrests per hour in 2007!

U.S. statistics:
Deaths in 2001
Tobacco 400,000
Alcohol 110,000
Rx drugs 100,000
Suicide 30,000
Murder 15,000
Marijuana 0
Charts and Graphs About the Drug War
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Costs associated with the U.S. War on Drugs (continually updated)
Cannabis prohibition cost American taxpayers $42 billion in 2007.

U.K. drug statistics

Non-violent offenders
should never be incarcerated with violent offenders...

Stop Prison Rape

Canadian Cannabis-related Opinion Poll Results and Statistics


Stephen Harper lied about not having seen any polls showing majority support for legalization!

In his March16, 2010 YouTube interview Stephen Harper responded to the assertion that "the majority of Canadians believe cannabis should be legalized" by saying:

"Well, it’s a good question. I’m not sure I’ve seen this particular poll. There are different polls on this subject that show different things.”

Mr. Harper, if you've managed to find this web page, congratulations... and welcome to the internets.

Majority of Canadians Would Legalize Marijuana, But Not Other Drugs
Apr 15, 2010 - Angus Reid Strategies - Global Monitor

Canadian Majority Would Legalize Marijuana
May 13, 2008 - Angus Reid Strategies -Global Monitor

"53% of Canadians support the legalization of marijuana"

Polling Data:
Do you support or oppose the legalization of each of the following drugs? ("Support" listed) Download the complete poll (PDF)
Source: Angus Reid Strategies May 2008 October 2007 June 2007
Marijuana 53% 51% 55%

Source: Angus Reid Strategies. Methodology: Online interviews with 1,004 Canadian adults, conducted on May 8 and May 9, 2008. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.
Canadians Support Marijuana Legalization
June 28, 2007
- Angus Reid Global Monitor Download Complete Poll (PDF)

"55% of Canadians support legalization of marijuana"

Canadian Cannabis Policy Public Opinion Polls
Support for Decriminalization (*survey terms are shown in parenthesis)

2005: 59% Canada (57% U.S.)("possession should not always result in a criminal record")
: 69% ("fines rather than jail sentences for marijuana possession") SES Research
: 58% ("reduced criminal implications") Decima Research
: 83% ("want pot prohibition to be less stringent")
: 65% ("decriminalization")
: 50% ("decriminalization")
: 65% ("decriminalization")
: 51% ("should not be a criminal offence")
: 39% ("decriminalization")

Support for Legalization (*survey terms are shown in parenthesis)

2008: 53% ("legalization") Angus Reid
2007: 51%
("legalization") Angus Reid
2007: 55%
("legalization") Angus Reid
: 53% ("regulating and taxing")
2000: 47% ("legalization") source
1975: 26% ("legalization") source

More information about Canadian opinion polls:
2005 - Marijuana should not always result in a criminal record
59% of Canadian respondents
-- and 57 % of American respondents -- think the conviction of possession of marijuana should not always result in a criminal record.
Source: Ipsos-Reid
2001 - Legalization
of Canadian teens approve of outright legalization of marijuana
source 1, source 2
2001 & 2000 - Decriminalization
of people approve of decriminalization
source 1 (70%, 2001) | source 2 (65%, 2000)
2000 & 1997 - Medical Purposes
of Canadians approve of marijuana for medical purposes
source 1 (92%, 2000) | source 2: (84%, 2000) | source 3 (80%, 1997)

Canadians See Drug Offences as Illness, Not Crime
Feb 1, 2007 - Angus Reid Global Monitor
"65% of Canadians support "treating the use of illegal drugs as an illness and focus on prevention and treatment for addicts."

Poll Question: Do you think the best approach to drug abuse is...
* Treat the use of illegal drugs as an illness and focus on prevention and treatment for addicts. 65%
* Treat the use of illegal drugs as a crime and get tough on enforcement of drug laws among addicts. 35%

Canadian Cannabis Arrest Statistics
1.5 million Canadians have criminal records for simple possession. [source]
Approximately 50,000 Canadians are arrested each year for marijuana related crimes. (49,639 in 2001 - Statistics Canada) [U.S. arrest stats]
75% of drug-related criminal charges are related to marijuana
65% of Canadians arrested for marijuana related crimes are for simple possession (under 30 grams of cannabis).
More than 30,000 Canadians are charged with simple possession annually - about 5% of these go to jail
Canadian Arrest Statistics: 1922 - present

Economic Costs
• Costs Associated with the Prohibition of Cannabis
[June 2004] About $400 million a year is spent annually on arresting, prosecuting and jailing drug criminals in Canada, an investment that has resulted in more than 600,000 Canadians with a criminal record for marijuana possession.
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, 2,000 Canadians go to jail every year for marijuana possession, at a cost to the taxpayer of $150 a day to house each of them. [source]

[December 2001] The Canadian government spends more than $500 million annually enforcing drug laws. (according to the most recent auditor-general's report)
Auditor General Sheila Fraser wrote : "The federal government could not provide complete information on resources spent to address illicit drugs."

Around $400 million is spent annually by the criminal justice system on cannabis-related offenses. [source]
Dr. Keith Martin (MP) believes decriminalization will save taxpayers $150 million a year.
"There are already 600,000* [Canadian] cases on record. With 30,000 arrests each year, your estimated legal costs are, I believe, $500 million. If we follow the prohibitionist line of reasoning, there are 30,000 arrests a year, each imprisoned individual costs $50,000 a year, so a total cost of $1.5 billion a year. As the number of arrests increase, costs rise exponentially." [source]
*this 600,000 number was revised to 1.5 million in 2002 by the John Howard Society...

"1.5 million Canadian citizens now have criminal records for possession of cannabis."
John Howard Society - Canadian Cannabis Policy - Factsheet 1 - 2002


• Lost Opportunity for Tax Revenue
Estimates put the value of the marijuana industry to the B.C. economy at anywhere between $2 billion and $10 billion, making it one of B.C.'s top three industries.
Canadian officials estimate that $4 billion to $7 billion worth of Canadian marijuana is sold in the United States each year. [source]

Read Article

Addictions bleed nearly $40B a year from economy: study

Tobacco addiction costs are estimated at $17 billion, or 42.7 per cent of the total amount.

Alcohol dependency costs are pinned at $14.6 billion, or 36.6 per cent.

The costs from addictions to [all] illegal drugs are estimated at about $8.2 billion, or 20.7 per cent.

School-Based Prevention Project
Institute of Health Promotion Research
University of British Columbia - October, 1995
• Summary of Findings
• Costs Associated with Substance Abuse in Canada and BC
• Licit and Illicit Drugs-Illness, Injury and Death

cannabis comparison


How does cannabis compare?  Find out now.

Canadian Cannabis Use Statistics Use stats from other countries
Cannabis use by all Canadians

2004: 12% of Canadians used cannabis more than once over the past year
: 14% of Canadians said they smoked pot some time over the past year
: 45.5% of Canadians said they had smoked pot some time in their lives
: 25% of adult Canadians have tried cannabis some time in life
: Approx. 7% of Canadians smoke marijuana recreationally (2.2 million)
: 7.4% of Canadians said they smoked pot some time over the past year

Cannabis use by young Canadians

2003:34% of teens reported having tried marijuana more than once
: Ontario Students: males=31%, females=28% tried marijuana more than once
: almost 30% of teens reported having tried marijuana more than once
: 13% of teens reported having tried marijuana more than once

*For more information about these statistics see below.

More information about use statistics:
2004: "Drug Use in Toronto 2004" - The Research Group on Drug Use

15% of Toronto adults reported past year cannabis use.
of Toronto students reported past year cannabis use. (22% in 2003)
Download "Press Release - Jan. 19/05 [PDF, 100k]
Download Findings by individual drugs: Cannabis [PDF, 48k]
Links to the FULL report or other individual sections [RGDU web site]
2004 (November) - Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS) (PDF document)
A national survey of Canadians’ use of alcohol and other drugs.
Prevalence of Use and Related Harms

Drug use among Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 has doubled in the last 10 years:
2004: 14% of Canadians said they smoked pot some time over the past year
1994: 7.4% of Canadians said they smoked pot some time over the past year
Overall, 45.5% of Canadians said they had smoked pot some time in their lives - almost double the number of people who answered that question a decade ago.
(* this increase might also be partly the result of Canadians being more comfortable admitting to cannabis use.)
2004 (July) - Statistics Canada - Use Survey [source]
* 3 million Canadians over age 15 - a little more than 12% of the population - admitted they'd used at least two cannabis substances in the previous 12 months
2003 (December) - GPC Research - Use Survey [source]
* A survey of 12- to 19-year-olds conducted this fall found that 34% said they had tried marijuana on more than one occasion.
* Almost 85,000 Canadian teens smoke marijuana daily (There are about three million teens aged 12-19 in Canada.) (85,000 out of 3 million)
2003 (November) - Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (OSDUS) [source]
"In males, it's about 31%. In females, it's 28% that indicated use at least once in their life," said Dr. Edward Adlaf, senior researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
2002 Special Senate Committee Report
Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy
"Approx. 25% of adult Canadians have tried cannabis some time in life"
2002: Approx. 7% of Canadians smoke marijuana recreationally (over 2 million people) source 1: StatsCan | source 2: Parliamentary Website
(Population of Canada in 2002: 31 million x 7% = 2.2 million marijuana smokers)
According to a U.N. study of drug use, 147 million people consume marijuana worldwide. [source: Globe & Mail, 9/22/02]

Comparing Substances: Health Related Statistics
• Cannabis
- There has never been a documented death as the result of ingesting marijuana. It is physically impossible to overdose from marijuana.
[View chart showing how cannabis compares with other substances.]
• Tobacco
- Over 45,000 Canadians die each year from tobacco. [Source]
• Alcohol
- It was estimated that 6,507 Canadians died in 1995 due to alcohol consumption.
"The Real Facts On Alcohol Use, Injuries And Deaths" - MADD Canada
- Alcohol is linked to more than 60 different medical conditions
- Approximately 18,000 Canadian deaths are caused each year by alcohol. [Source]
• All illicit drugs *combined*
The total number of deaths attributed to *all* illicit drugs in Canada in 1995 is
estimated at 804.


[Canadian cigarette package warning label ]

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Mandatory prison sentences for low-level, non-violent, first-time drug offencers.

— Courtesy of
Stephen Harper.

Watch videos of expert testimony presented to the Senate Committees studying Bills C-15 & S-10, the previous two incarnations of the Harper government's 'mandatory prison for drug crimes' legislation.
Bill C-15 Senate Cttee videos
Learn more about this legislation

Senate Special Committee's Report on Cannabis: 2002
Want a quick overview? Read the highlights

Senate Report Info
and Video Clips

Politicians blowing smoke on grow-ops: lawyers

"I have never seen violence in my grow-op cases, except for the violence meted out by police," said lawyer Stanley Tessmer of Kelowna, B.C., who successfully represented a B.C. couple in the 2003 appeal.

"I just don't know where police get their statistics. Police press releases wouldn't stand up to 10 minutes of fact checking."