Ocean City, Maryland, is a popular East Coast beach vacation destination, but it's also the scene of a major push for marijuana arrests, according to the Bethany Beach Wave. Police there have made 615 drug possession arrests there so far this year, and a whopping 85% of them are for pot possession.
"Nobody wants to see all those drugs arrests, but it ultimately makes Ocean City a safer place to get those drugs off the street," police spokeswoman Jessica Waters said. "Drug arrests have been high on the priority list for officers, whether it be on a traffic stop or on the Boardwalk."
The arrests run in tandem with the high season for tourism, when tens of thousands of people flood into the seaside resort to escape the summer heat. Last year, according to the department's annual report, police made 160 drug possession arrests between January and May, but the number skyrocketed to 473 in the month of June 2011, declined to 284 in July and 154 in August before falling to the double or single digits for the rest of the year.
Ocean City police made a total of 3,829 arrests last year, 1,166 on drug charges. The department doesn't specify, but the majority of those were presumably for pot possession. The number of drug arrests has climbed rather remarkably in recent years, averaging under 800 for 2005 through 2008, before climbing to 839 in 2009, 933 in 2010, and more than 1,100 last year.
Ocean City has about five times the number of police per capita as other Maryland departments, at least in part because of its high number of visitors, but it also has a higher crime index than the US national average. While police have prioritized drug arrests in general and marijuana arrests in particular, they have apparently not been able to get a handle on their real crime problems.
And for marijuana consumers, well, there are other beaches on the East Coast.