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Last week, on Nov. 4, the District marked the first anniversary of the passage of Initiative 71, a ballot measure that effectively legalized weed, at least in the form of possessing, growing, and using (but not selling) tiny amounts of it in one’s home.
In that line, data provided by the Metropolitan Police Department shows that marijuana arrests have dropped to historic lows. MPD has only issued seven arrests for possession of marijuana this year, as of Nov. 6—down 99.2 percent from 2014’s 895 total arrests. Even last year, though, police arrested just seven people from Jul. 7 to Dec. 31, likely an indication of a change in MPD strategy after decriminalization first took effect. Here’s a by-the-numbers breakdown of MPD arrests for pot possession from 2010 through last week:
2015: 7 (as of Nov. 6)
Possession arrests spiked in 2011 during this period, and gradually decreased until 2014. Then, they plummeted. “I’m not policing the city as a mom, I’m policing it as the police chief—and 70 percent of the public supported [Initiative 71],” Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in February, according to The Daily Beast. “All those arrests do is make people hate us.”
Don’t take these declining numbers as a justification to light up on the streets of D.C., however: It’s still illegal to smoke weed in public.
Photo by Katheirne Hitt via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0