The Marijuana Crackdown in Maryland: Who's Getting Caught and the Consequences

Curt Davies, University of Maryland at College Park
Paul J. Hirschfield, Northwestern University
Peter H. Reuter, University of Maryland at College Park

During the 1990's various police agencies throughout the United Stataes launched a crackdown on marijuana offenses. In Maryland "zero tolerance" approaches to marijuana are often touted as strategies to curb serious crime, drugs, and/or disorder in urban neighborhoods. This paper focuses on three Maryland counties that experienced a surge in marijuana possession arrests. More specifically, the present research investigates the extent to which marijuana arrests durng the crackdown tageted offenders who are likely to be a source of crime and disorder in neighborhoods. A combination of arrest and court records provide recent criminal histories of arrestees. Additional relevant information for various sub-populations includes the weight of marijuana confiscated from, and the circumstances leading to marijuana possession arrests. This data, together with information from Maryland jails and drug treatment centers, suggest that a disproportionate share of the costs of the marijuana crackdown fall on petty, and minority offenders.

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Updated 05/20/2006