Vehicle searches down in Burlington since marijuana laws loosened

Local News
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The number of vehicles searched by Burlington police officers dropped 70 percent in the 12 months after a state law took effect legalizing the possession of marijuana.

Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, Burlington officers searched 19 vehicles based on suspicion of unlawful activity of all types, according to data released by the department.

That’s down from 63 vehicles searched in the previous 12-month period that ended June 30, 2018.

In a statement, Burlington Chief Brandon del Pozo said “now that personal marijuana possession is legal, very few cars are searched at traffic stops as compared to past levels.”

New data from the Burlington Police Department show how the legal landscape for roadside
searches of motorists has changed since Vermont legalized marijuana possession. (Source: Burlington Police Department)

Del Pozo noted that the decline was consistent across races. In the 12 months before legalization, 23 black drivers were searched during car stops, compared to just three in the 12 months since the law took effect, the department said.

The data released Thursday is part of the department’s upcoming report on traffic enforcement, which will be released in full next week.

Earlier this week, the department released data that showed Burlington officers made 56 percent fewer motor-vehicle stops in 2018 than they did in 2015.

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