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Drug War Snapshot: Ocean City, Maryland

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #742)
Politics & Advocacy

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.

Ocean City boardwalk (
Police said they didn't want such a high level of drug busts, but then said they were a high priority.

"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.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


ozziebirons (not verified)

Neither the Gov or AG can be found to have accepted contributions from CCA or Geo.

However, I have a question - if the drug war is so successful at keeping drugs out of the country, then why does there need to be so much effort in keeping them off the streets?  And if we are so successful at keeping them off the streets, then why do we need drug free school zones.

Can you say failed policy?

Sun, 07/08/2012 - 9:26pm Permalink
Denver Prog (not verified)


I like this new feature section. Drug War Snapshot could be a classic. I was talking with another guy about something similar: Drug War Fear. i.e. that no matter where you go in this country, chances are high that  if you ask a stranger where to get pot they immediately think you're a nark.  And we were discussing how utterly strange and Orwellian it is that suspicion should be the default mode for the request of a substance as deleterious to society as garden tomatoes. . . 

On a somewhat different note, but just as creepy, for years I've been fascinated by the taboo of mentioning cannabis in head shops. All those signs there that say, "For Tobacco Use Only". Both the customer and the proprietor know it's a lie. (BTW, what's with all these taboos surrounding the consumption of flowers? We are a fucking weird species!) Ultimately it comes down to the owners of these stores not wanting to get raided by the state, and many of them feel this specious signage is utterly ridiculous, and obviously quite disingenuous: to post a sign mandating the use of one plant for pipes that are clearly intended for another kind of plant altogether! Even more bizarre and pathetic, THERE IS A VERY STRONG CHANCE YOU WILL GET SICK IF YOU SMOKE TOBACCO OUT OF A BONG! I never heard anyone recommend it. I've heard reports from some that they became almost violently ill as a result. So we are being misdirected to engage in a behavior that will actually make us sick. (Talk about primitive! By this time cannabis prohibition has outdone every outrage of Alcohol prohibition by exponential factors. Alcohol prohibition is a drop of water compared to the ocean of cannabis prohibition in every category.) 

Ok, so what this means vis-a-vis the B-word is that there should be a movement to fight this obvious scam and boondoggle by exposing it to the public as yet another act of ridiculous paternalism. Something this trivial and Neanderthal could never withstand public scrutiny for very long, I bet. And it's high time we kicked that "For Tobacco Use Only" shuck  out of lives completely. It's an eyesore, a monotonous drone of stupidity every time you enter a head shop.  Seriously, what a fucking insult that we have to endure taboo words to buy pot pipes! So this a frontier ripe for a documentary. I think that would be the best way to start the ball rolling on this issue. . And I hope a film maker with a flare for adventure takes this suggestion seriously. After all it's novel, never been done, and touches every citizen of the u.s. (Like taking off their fucking shoes at the airport like naughty children). Just film a person going into all these head shops and asking for a "bong". You could call it Bong Hits For The People. Or The B-Word. (LOL) Or something similar. If done right, people would love to watch a film like this. I know I would. I'm guessing you would have to have a good legal team behind you, though...

Mon, 07/09/2012 - 2:22am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

Why on GOD`S green earth , would someone want to go to a Maryland Beach ? Especially if you have some good Bud . The Georgia Coast is more like it . Blatant stupidity and foolishness will get you into trouble anywhere . Ga. coast , the best on tha coast .

Tue, 07/10/2012 - 1:05am Permalink
Publius (not verified)


The War on Drugs has as much to do with keeping our children sober as US military presence in the Middle East has to do with promoting Constitutional republicanism.

Drug enforcement and private use of prisoner-slave labor is business. BIG BUSINESS. The Republicans are all about thumping their Christian Bibles while championing the principles of disgraced president Richard Nixon's drug policies. Democrats see $$,$$$,$$$,$$$,$$$. Both are hell-bent on micro-managing our lives and make thousands of people dependent on bureaucratic and policing jobs to carry out that mission.

As for the macho punks with guns, badges, and Amerikan Flag patches on their uniforms who harass and terrorize our fellow citizens, I say;

``Seig hiel. Be sure to click you boot-heels loudly when you pledge allegiance to the Flag of the world's #1 Prison State... one nation, under surveillance .... where LIBERTY is but a meaningless word stamped on its cheap-metal coinage and JUSTICE has been reduced to a commodity --- the quality of which is directly related to attorneys' fees.'

Tue, 07/10/2012 - 5:32am Permalink

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