Arresting People for Marijuana Possession ‘Never Was Productive to Begin With’ says D.C. Police Chief

If the legalization of marijuana possession goes into effect in Washington, D.C., the city’s police chief thinks it will save officers both time and energy.

Asked if last year’s ballot initiative to legalize pot has impacted policing, Chief Cathy Lanier told NewsChannel 8, “Marijuana possession has never been a big arrest category. If you’re arrested for possession of marijuana, typically we get it because there’s some other charge and then we find the marijuana in a search upon arrest.” According to Lanier, possession has led to few arrests in the past few years, since people are rarely prosecuted. Subsequently, “It saves us from having to charge someone for small amounts of marijuana now, because it really never was productive to begin with. It’s a little bit easier for us, actually.”

As noted by Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell, Lanier’s claim that marijuana arrests are unusual is hard to square with an ACLU investigation from 2013. The organization’s report concluded that “the District has a higher per capita arrest rate, greater racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests, and spends more money in marijuana enforcement than almost any other state or county in the country.” Between 2001 and 2010, arrests for marijuana possession increased by 61.5 percent. The number of marijuana arrests in D.C. in 2010, 5,393, surpassed those in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Miami-Dade counties in 2010. And in 87 percent of cases involving marijuana arrests, charges for separate crimes were not made.

– Read the entire article at Think Progress.