Arrests for public marijuana use nearly triple in D.C.

Police arrests for marijuana use in public nearly tripled in the District last year, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

More than 400 people were taken into custody for public consumption of marijuana in D.C. in 2016 compared to 142 arrested in 2015. Arrests for distribution of marijuana also jumped almost 200 percent, from 80 in 2015 to 220 last year, according to The Post.

This year, arrest rates are expected to remain high. Police arrested 78 individuals for public consumption of marijuana and 79 people for distribution from January to April 5 this year, The Post reported.

Dustin Sternbeck, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, told The Post that marijuana arrests soared after the department “focused its drug enforcement efforts on illegal sales.” He cited legislation as another driver of the increase.

The District voted to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults in 2014, but residents are still banned from using it in public. GW still bans the use and distribution of marijuana on campus.

Advocates told The Post they are concerned that these arrests unfairly target low-income and minority populations, including those living in rented homes or government-supported housing who then smoke in public.

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