This story was originally published in Straight Cannabis.

Even if one never spends a minute in jail, a charge for possessing cannabis can haunt a Canadian citizen for life. It can turn up in job interviews and at the border with the United States. Given the plant is relatively harmless to adults, a charge is a hugely disproportionate penalty for possessing a drug that Canada is in the process of fully legalizing. And so it’s good news that authorities across the country are charging fewer Canadians with possession.

According to new data published by Statistics Canada, 2017 was the sixth year in a row to see a decline in the number of people charged with holding cannabis.

Last year, 13,768 people were charged with marijuana possession. That’s down from 17,720 in 2016, from 21,320 the year before that, and from 24,535 possession charges in 2014.

A CBC News article on the data describes 13,768 charges as the fewest recorded in 20 years.

As previously reported by the Straight, the Vancouver Police Department has let it be known it no longer considers cannabis a “policing priority” for several years now.

“We ask, is a recommendation of criminal charges proportionate to the offense that is being committed?” Const. Brian Montague

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