Police arrested over 400 people last year for public marijuana consumption in D.C., a nearly-threefold increase since the District legalized recreational weed in 2015.
Adults 21 and up have been legally allowed to grow, possess, smoke, vape, ingest or otherwise consume cannabis in the nation’s capital ever since Initiative 71 took effect Feb. 26, 2015. The law doesn’t authorize public use, however, and authorities appear more keen than ever toward cracking down on illegal consumption.
Arrest records reveal that D.C. police took over 400 people into custody last year for public marijuana consumption, up from 142 in 2015, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Another 78 were arrested for public marijuana consumption between Jan. 1 and April 5, putting the District on pace to crack over 300 arrests by year’s end, The Post reported.
Marijuana distribution arrests also nearly tripled last year, from 80 in 2015 to 220 in 2016, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, The Post reported. Another 79 people were arrested for distribution this year prior to April 5, the report said.
D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the increase in distribution arrests occurred because the city has “focused its drug enforcement efforts on illegal sales,” The Post reported.
While Initiative 71 legalized recreational weed, it only applies to growing or consuming cannabis in private, meaning buying or selling the plant is still illegal. Residents have managed to skirt those restrictions by utilizing companies that give customers free marijuana when purchasing legal goods.
Eight states have legalized recreational marijuana, plus D.C., including five where weed could be bought in stores: Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and Washington state. Medical marijuana laws are in place in 29 states and D.C.