Growing Concern

Rating: NNNNNThe feds may be flirting with decriminalization, but don't let your pot hopes get too high. Last week's Operation.


Rating: NNNNN

The feds may be flirting with decriminalization, but don’t let your pot hopes get too high. Last week’s Operation Green Sweep, a cross-country bust of indoor grows, sent a decidedly different smoke signal — that the war on pot is as over-the-top as ever. And a colossal waste of money.

OPERATION GREEN SWEEP

Number of police officers involved: more than 800 from 25 police forces

Number of search warrants executed: 189

Total number of arrests made: 162

Number of pot plants seized by Canadian authorities in 95: 296,00

Number seized in 99: 954,700

Total number of pot cultivation charges laid in Ontario in 99 and 2000: 3,217

WHO ARE THEY REALLY AFTER?

Number of pot possession charges laid in Ontario in 99: 14,214

Number laid in 2000: 17,252

Number of cocaine possession charges laid in 99: 1,669

Number laid in 2000 : 1,701

Number of heroin possession charges laid in 99: 99

Number laid in 2000: 103

Total number of people charged with drug offences in 99: 50,000

Percentage of cases involving organized crime: 7

Percentage of cases where there was no verdict or charges were withdrawn: 43

BUILDING AN EMPIRE

Number of RCMP officers attached to drug enforcement: 1,301

Other RCMP officers involved in joint forces drug operations: 900

Number of federal government departments and agencies involved in controlling illegal drugs: 11

Amount departments and agencies spend each year: more than $500 million (not including provincial, territorial and municipal government spending)

MESSED-UP PRIORITIES

Percentage of illegal drug control budget spent on law enforcement: 95

Percentage spent on drug treatment, prevention, rehab and harm reduction programs: 5

Amount budgeted by Health Canada to coordinate harm reduction efforts: $1 million

Amount feds would save in social costs for every dollar invested in drug treatment: $7

Percentage of drug deaths related to drug prohibition: 80

WHAT THE AUDITOR GENERAL SAYS

Key information on the drug environment, such as frequency and prevalence of drug use and its impact on society, is either not available or not up-to-date. Of particular concern is the almost complete absence of basic management information on spending of resources, on expectations and on results of an activity that accounts for almost $500 million a year.

With research assistance by Dana Borceagrowing concern

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