Washington D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said marijuana is “undoubtedly” a factor in the city’s rise in violent crimes during a press briefing Friday.
“We have taken on a mindset that marijuana is not really a big issue in our city,” Contee said. “I can tell you that marijuana undoubtedly is connected to violent crimes that we are seeing in our communities.”
“When you have something where people get high reward — they can make a lot of money by selling illegal marijuana — and the risk is low, the risk for accountability is very low, that creates a very, very, very bad situation, because those individuals get robbed,” he added. “Those individuals get shot at. Those individuals get involved in disputes all across our city.”
Contee said he has personally seen an increase in violent crimes related specifically to marijuana, Yahoo News reports.
“I’m seeing it happen more and more all across our city in all different wards,” he said. “Last year, we had a murder up in Ward 3 on Western Avenue tied to an illegal marijuana pop-up. Here, recently, on North Capital Street, we had another illegal marijuana place that somebody entered into with guns, duct-taped somebody, and put a gun to somebody’s head in there. Unlawful marijuana pop-ups, unlawful distribution of marijuana in communities, that is a bad recipe for disaster.”
He added that local prosecutors are enabling the situation by not holding people accountable when caught with an illegal amount of marijuana, which is over two ounces for individuals over the age of 21 according to D.C. law.
Watch Chief Contee's Press Briefing on ABC7.