CannaCrime: Latest Baltimore crime data show dramatic decline in cannabis-possession arrests as decriminalization takes hold

By Van Smith

Baltimore, March 22, 2109

While racial disparities continue to muddy the waters of pot-prohibition discussions, one thing jumps out when crunching newly available Maryland State Police crime data: Baltimore City’s law-enforcement discretion in the age of decriminalization had led to a free fall in the number of people getting jacked up for possessing cannabis. As the city’s numbers have dropped, so too have the region’s: from nearly 500 pot-possession arrests per 100,000 residents in 2010, to below 150 per 100,000 residents in 2017.

Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 2.02.35 PM

It took me some time to create this population-corrected analysis, but it’s borne fruit. Also interesting to note are trends in specific counties. In Harford, for instance, per-capita pot-possession arrests jumped significantly in 2016 and 2017 compared to the six years prior – decriminalization since 2014 seems to have had the opposite practical affect there than the policymakers intended – and in Anne Arundel the downward shift is decidedly muted. Baltimore County, meanwhile, clearly has taken the decrim memo to heart by bringing its per capita possession-arrest numbers in 2017 down to Baltimore City’s sub-basement levels.

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