As marijuana-related arrests soar across Canada, Toronto’s police chief stressed the city’s own swollen statistics stem from a crackdown on gangs and street violence — not on recreational puffers.

“Our focus in the communities where the street gangs operate has been on the violence,” Bill Blair said yesterday in an interview.

“But we’re also finding that ... one of their principal sources of income, in those street gangs, is the trafficking of drugs ... including marijuana.”


Toronto police arrested nearly 2,500 people on marijuana-possession charges in 2006, a 35 per cent increase from the previous year and almost double the number of arrests three years ago.

Asked whether this included those who smoke without being involved in organized crime, Blair replied: “Frankly, we’re too busy trying to deal with the priorities of this city.”

Marijuana use doubled

  • In 2004, the Canadian Addiction Survey found the number of Canadians 15 and over who used marijuana had doubled since 1994.