Despite recreational use being legalized in 2015, marijuana arrests have increased significantly since then.
In 2016, arrests for marijuana tripled from the year before, the same year recreational use was approved by D.C. voters.
Approximately 400 individuals were arrested in 2016 for the public consumption of marijuana. In 2015, only 142 were arrested for the same charges.
There was also a rise in distribution arrests. In 2015, there were 80 individuals arrested for distributing marijuana. In 2016, that number increased to 220. D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the department had “focused its drug enforcement efforts on illegal sales,” leading to an increase in arrests for distribution.
Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, an advocacy group that examines marijuana arrests, disagreed with the police department.
“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 overpolicing and underserving communities of color,” Smith said according to the Washington Post.
With no representation in the U.S. Senate, D.C. residents have long complained that their rights are routinely trampled on.