Busted: How Do Public Consumption of Marijuana Citations Stack Up?

Denver started 2014 with nine tickets for public consumption of marijuana in 11 days. But how does that compare to other municipal citations?

February 2014

Before marijuana's inaugural day in recreational storefronts, predictions for how the new market would go over varied. Some focused on the untapped mine of wealth the crop was sure to bring, a veritable milkshake prime for the drinking. Former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, (D-Rhode Island), foresaw it as the beginning of a downward spiral sure to elevate into a scrum of car accidents, an uptick in high-school dropouts, and other "unintended consequences."

Of course, there was no mass chaos in its unveiling. In marijuana's first days of legal tenure, the Denver Police issued about one citation per day for consuming pot in public. As of February 11, the grand total had increased to 26 citations (including three for public consumption while under the age of 18).

But how much is that really? To get a sense of scale, let's compare it to the stats on a few other crimes around Denver.

Speeding Tickets: Like a tweaked fender or a text from a friend begging for a ride to DIA, odds are you've gotten one of these if you have a car in Denver. The statistics back it up: police in Denver issued 58,962 of these babies over the course of 2013—that's about 160 miffed motorists per day. As of February 11, we're up to 4,195.  

Jaywalking: No one gets ticketed for jaywalking, right? You'd be surprised. Though seldom enforced, 141 unlucky folks were written up for this offense in Denver last year, or one ticket every two or three days. (The tally's up to 12—so far.) 

Public indecency and indecent exposure: Besides smoking weed, there are a few other things you just can't do in public. The line between these offenses often hinges upon intent—those who dabble in exhibitionism may end up netting a public indecency ticket, while any intention of harm is more likely to be considered indecent exposure. In 2013, 209 tickets were issued between the two in Denver. As of February 11, Denver police have issued 10 public indecency or indecent exposure citations. 

So in short, try and nix the smoking anywhere you feel pants are necessary, wait for the signal before crossing the street, and slow down. With your help, we can take a chunk out of next year's statistics.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock