A change in strategy by the Baltimore police department has meant far fewer arrests on drug possession charges. (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore Sun file via AP)

Life on the street gets less dramatic: Baltimore drug arrests drop by half

Cops are targeting violent drug offenders instead of small-scale users, say officials. Small amounts of weed were decriminalized in 2014.

BALTIMORE — Drug arrests in Baltimore dropped by nearly 50 percent last year.

An analysis of drug arrests by the Baltimore Sun shows that fewer people were arrested in 2015 for possession and distribution of marijuana and other illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine. Small amounts of marijuana were decriminalized in 2014.

Officials say the drop is the result of a shift in strategy among Baltimore police. Authorities are targeting large-scale, violent drug offenders and focusing less on addicts who commit lesser offenses.

Anthony Barksdale, the city’s former acting commissioner, is critical of the department’s new approach.

Barksdale says drug arrests take people involved in violence off the streets and that fewer drug arrests means police get less information that can help solve homicides and other investigations.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun