Crime Stoppers
Serving Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota

Marijuana & Cannabis

Marijuana is one of the biggest scourges that have been plaguing Canada and the United States for decades. USA is, actually, the world’s biggest consumer of this psychoactive drug, according to a survey made in 2008 by the World Health Organization. But Canada’s numbers aren’t better.

Cannabis is still the number one consumed drug in the country and, according to a study made by the Addiction Foundation of Manitoba, in 2004, 44.5 percent of Canadians tried marijuana at least once in their life and men with 18 and 19 years old are the biggest consumers.

In both countries, experimenting and consuming marijuana has been a “normal part of growing up”, like professor Peter Reuter, from the University of Maryland, described (If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise? 2009). But, it’s not because most people tend to ignore the dissemination of marijuana that the problem will disappear. The consumption of cannabis continues to increase and the crime scenarios in which the drug is present keep multiplying, not only when drugs are the crime, but also when drugs are one of the reasons why the crime happened. This is not a complete shock if you think that marijuana has psychoactive and physiological effects, especially because of the component THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

Several scientific studies report that the drug changes not only the consumer’s perception of reality, but also their mood, blood pressure, memory and psychomotor coordination.

This psychoactive drug ends up provoking a mix of feelings, from lethargy to euphoria, not forgetting violence. The long-term effects are still being studied, but soon there will be millions of investigation “samples”, if you think that, in 2009, Roger Roffman, a professor at the University of Washington, assured that “approximately 3.6 million Americans are daily or near daily users” of marijuana (If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?, 2009).

That’s why Crime Stoppers of Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesotahave been fighting for years against marijuana abuse. Because although cannabis is still considered illegal in Canada and Minnesota, the consumers act as if it wasn’t. And, thanks to the statistics, it hasn’t been difficult relating the consumption of this drug to the increase in crime and violence in these regions.

Cannabis Possession Reporting Increased in 2011

Cannabis possessions increased in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. In Canada, drug offences such as possession, trafficking, importation/exportation and production fall under the purview of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

In 2011, police reported more than 113,100 drug crimes, of which more than half (54%) were for the possession of cannabis.

Drug-related crime reporting increased in 2011. This increase was driven by a 7% rise in the rate of cannabis possession offences. However, the rate of trafficking, production and distribution of cannabis declined 11%.

Can drugs be guilty?

Despite the facts, we still need to ask. Can these two issues – drugs, in this case marijuana, and crime – be connected? The answer is yes if we defer to a document published in Minnesota in 2012. According to the “Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy“, a document published in 2012 by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the state of Minnesota, drugs are linked to many of society’s current problems.

Among these problems are “increased crime, illnesses, child abuse and neglect, unwanted pregnancy, birth defects, accidental injuries, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities and accidental overdose deaths” all resulting in or significantly contributing to “increased health care and criminal justice costs” that are borne largely at public expense.

In Minnesota’s case, marijuana is still the most commonly used and available drug in the state, as reported by the National Substance Abuse Index, and the consumption continues to grow. Also, Minnesota was the 17th state with the biggest rate of marijuana abuse in 2012, according to information published on the website StateMaster.com, and the crime statistics haven’t decreased significantly in the last few years.

However, when we talk about crime, Canada is an example of what should be made to prevent it, as the country is now enjoying the lowest crime rate in the last 40 years. Yet, there’s an exception that is quite baffling and its name is Northwestern Ontario. The crime increase at the region worries Canada because, although the rates continue to fall all over the country, this is not happening in that particular area. And here is where the issue lies.

A complete survey conducted by the Canadian magazine MacLean’s states that Ontario is the 9th region with the highest rate of violent crimes, such as murder or assault.

How to recognize the signs and prevent addiction

If we want to stop this disaster, all the citizens need to be alert and learn to know the signs of cannabis abuse. It’s up to everyone to help prevent the increase of marijuana abuse. Although thousands of consumers deny their addiction, it’s not difficult to identify the signs and avoiding an addiction might be the same as avoiding a crime in the future. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Like any other drug, regular use of marijuana creates a tolerance in the user, causing him to need more and more drug to get high. These consumers will get the normal withdrawal symptoms such as loss of appetite, irritability, insomnia or anxiety.
  • Being unable to cut down the dosage or stop using marijuana use, what usually results in spending all day getting high.
  • Regular users and addicts tend to reduce all other activities of their daily life like, for instance, their hobbies and even school or work. Missing work because of drugs is an important sign of addiction, because it means that the consumer is willing to risk a significant part of its life because of cannabis.
  • Addicts usually use marijuana to escape from problems like bad grades or relationship issues. The momentary lethargy that cannabis provides turns into an addiction for these people.
  • Someone that chooses relationships or activities based on the possibility of getting high is an obvious sign of addiction to marijuana.

Therefore community groups such as the most obvious, Crime Stoppers of Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota urges citizens to “Know the Signs” as part of its latest public awareness campaign.

Crime Stoppers of Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota further urges citizens not to avoid the issue of increasing marijuana use and abuse and suggests every citizen to become aware of the signs because marijuana users of the present are most likely the up & coming criminals in the future.