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DC changes course on custody for public marijuana use

FILE - This April 6, 2018 file photo shows the leaves of a marijuana plant inside Ultra Health's cultivation greenhouse in Bernalillo, N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

WASHINGTON — People caught smoking pot in public in D.C. will now get a citation instead of being taken into custody, thanks to a policy change announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham on Friday.

Citing public marijuana smokers instead of custodial arrests was already an option available to D.C. police, but the new rule mandates it in an effort to cut back on the number of people in custody.

Under the new procedure, people receiving a citation must go to a police station for booking within 15 days. At that point, they can either pay a $25 fine or go to court.

“We cherish the trust we have built between residents and the police,” Bowser said in a release. “This policy will reduce the number of people who are taken into custody and allow us to better focus our efforts and resources on building a safer, stronger D.C.”

Juveniles, people with outstanding warrants or others deemed by officers to be a threat to themselves or someone else will not be eligible for the new, more lenient procedure.


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