Home | Goals | Founders | What's New | Headlines | Contact Us | Please donate! | Links | Search

From "The Daily", Latest News from Statistics Canada

Tuesday, March 9, 1999

Illicit drugs and crime


 Statistics Canada today releases a Juristat with a detailed analysis of criminal drug offences reported by Canadian police forces. Baseline data on this subject were released last July as part of the Juristat on Crime statistics in Canada, 1997. The report on drugs provides a statistical profile of drug crimes and drug offenders. It also examines national trends, as well as data for the provinces and territories.

In 1997, police forces in Canada reported 66,500 offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This represented a rate of 222 offences for every 100,000 people in the population. Although the drug crime rate has increased 12% between 1993 and 1997, it has remained relatively stable since 1983. It should be noted that trends in police-reported drug offences are influenced by levels of police enforcement.

Table: Drug offences
                                  number            rate1      % change in    

1988                              59,382              222              ...    
1989                              66,930              245               11    
1990                              60,624              219              -11    
1991                              57,068              204               -7    
1992                              58,881              207                2    
1993                              56,817              198               -5    
1994                              60,153              207                5    
1995                              61,613              210                1    
1996                              65,729              222                6    
1997                              66,521              222                0    


(1)  Rates are calculated on the basis of 100,000 persons.
(...)  Figures not applicable.

During the 1990s, cannabis offences have been increasing while cocaine and heroin offences have been declining. In 1997, cannabis offences accounted for 72% of all drug crimes, compared with 58% in 1991. In contrast, cocaine accounted for 17% of all cases in 1997, down from 28% in 1991, and heroin accounted for about 2% of all cases, down marginally from 1991.

Possession of cannabis alone accounted for almost half of all drug offences. In 1997, cultivation offences represented 14% of all cannabis offences compared with slightly less than 3% a decade earlier. According to the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, this rise may be linked to more sophisticated growing techniques and new technology which have enabled Canadian traffickers to produce high-quality cannabis in hydroponic greenhouses. Canadian-grown cannabis accounted for 50% of the domestic market supply in 1995, compared with 10% in 1985.

Among the provinces, British Columbia has consistently reported the highest rate of drug crime since 1982. Its 1997 rate of 426 drug offences for every 100,000 population was almost double the national rate. Newfoundland recorded the lowest rate (132) for the second consecutive year. In recent years, Newfoundland and Alberta have shown the largest decreases in the rate of drug offences, while Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have shown the largest increases.

Overall, 40,800 people, both youths and adults, were charged with a drug offence in 1997. Nine out of every 10 of them were male. People charged in cocaine and heroin incidents were, on average, 30 years of age. Those charged with cannabis offences tended to be younger, with an average age of 25. Also, older offenders are more likely to be involved with "supply" offences.

Court data from seven provinces and one territory for the fiscal year 1996/1997 show that almost two-thirds (64%) of people convicted of drug trafficking were sentenced to prison, five times the proportion of people jailed for drug possession (13%).

Data from a one-day snapshot of inmates in correctional facilities in 1996 showed that 9% of the adult inmate population in Canada were in prison for a drug offence as their most serious offence. Alberta (17%) and Quebec (14%) had the highest percentage of drug offenders in their provincial prisons, while British Columbia (8%) was below the national average. In federal penitentiaries, 8% of all inmates were incarcerated for a drug offence as their most serious offence.

Available on CANSIM: matrices 2198-2200.

Juristat: Illicit drugs and crime in Canada, vol.18, no.15 (85-002-XPE, $10/$93) is now available. See How to order publications.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (613-951-9023; 1 800 387-2231), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Juristat: Illicit drugs and crime in Canada, 1997, vol. 19, no. 1
Catalogue number 85-002-XIE
(Canada: $8/$70; outside Canada: US$8/US$70).

Juristat: Illicit drugs and crime in Canada, 1997, vol. 19, no. 1
Catalogue number 85-002-XPE
(Canada: $10/$93; outside Canada: US$10/US$93).

All prices exclude sales tax.

Return to Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy home page

Updated: 24 Jul 2001 | Accessed: 67681 times