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.


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


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Percentage of cases where there was no verdict or charges were withdrawn: 43


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)


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


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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