2015 was the year that marijuana became legalized in Washington D.C. and ever since arrests for the public use of marijuana in have been increasing each year, and nearly tripled in 2016.
In 2015 142 people were arrested for the public consumption of marijuana compared to the 400 people who got arrested in 2016 for it. Public records show that these arrests are due to remain high in 2017 as well, with 78 people already being arrested for the crime as of April 5th.
Ever since the legalization of marijuana in D.C. there have been more arrests for public consumption, due to people unaware that public consumption is against the law.
Advocates for marijuana criticize the increase in arrests, saying they disproportionately affected poor people and minorities, claiming they have no other place to go.
Not only are arrests increasing for public consumption but they are for distribution as well. Going from 80 arrests in 2015 to 220 in 2016, almost tripling likewise. An increase in arrests for distribution is due to the department being “focused its drug enforcement efforts on illegal sales,” D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said in an email. *?
“A rise in marijuana enforcement, especially at a time of historic and dropping levels of crime in the District, suggests a return to failed practices of over-policing and underserving communities of color,” said Jonathan Smith, an executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
Adam Eidinger, the head of DCMJ, an advocacy group that lobbied for marijuana legalization in the District, believes that renters and those in public housing are left out of the right to smoke marijuana in D.C., a privilege only being enjoyed by people with private property.
The data includes arrests by D.C. police and other law enforcement agencies in the city.