by Tom Fletcher and Vikki Hopes, Abbotsford News
Recent statistics from Abbotsford indicate the area is meeting a province-wide trend that shows a drop in marijuana possession cases and an increase in other drug cases.
New figures from Statistics Canada indicate that 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.
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.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said Abbotsford recorded a 14 per cent drop in pot-related cases from 2011 to 2012, while heroin jumped 167 per cent and cocaine went up 35 per cent.
Contrary to the B.C. figures, Abbotsford had a slight drop – five per cent – in meth-related cases.
MacDonald said the decline in marijuana cases can likely be attributed to the increase in licensed medical marijuana production.
He said this could also account for the hike in cases involving other drugs. As there is less demand on the street to purchase illegally grown marijuana, gangs turn to the trafficking of other substances, he said.
The latest stats come as licensed medical marijuana production increases across North America. Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize sales 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.