The Electronic Encyclopedia's definition of the word "crime- is an act committed in violation of a law forbidding it and for which a court may impose a variety of punishments including imprisonment, death, fine, or removal from office. Criminal acts can be classified into two classes, mala in se and mala prohibita (Sacco and Kennedy, 2002). Serious offenses fall into the mala in se class and are considered to be inherently evil or criminal (Sacco and Kennedy, 2002). Meanwhile, offences such as prostitution or drug abuse would fall into the mala prohibita class. These acts are only considered criminal because society seeks to regulate these particular types of behavior and argues that they are illegal. However, these offenses are often reclassified back and forth between criminal and non-criminal acts depending on the current public opinion, the custom, or the religion of the time. For example, although the consumption of alcohol is currently legal in the United States, in the 1920s Prohibition made the ownership and consumption of alcohol illegal.
The organization of crime, trafficking of alcohol, extortion, bribery, assault, and murder were examples of the types of crimes committed during America's Prohibition Era. This bears a resemblance to the types of crimes occurring today arising from the prohibition of marijuana in North America. Violence is an inevitable part of the production, trafficking and distribution of narcotics. The marijuana trade has become big business, sophisticated and organized. It is undoubtedly the greatest mala prohibita offence occurring in British Columbia's Lower Mainland. Specifically, in 2000, 44 percent of the marijuana cultivation incidents reported by police agencies to Statistics Canada occurred in the province of British Columbia (Statistic Canada, 2004). Furthermore, in 2001, major Canadian law enforcement agencies seized close to 1.4 million marijuana plants, a six-fold increase since 1993 (Statistic Canada, 2004).