You might expect to find drug users on Bay Area streets or satisfying their munchies in the Haight’s coffee shops.
Yosemite, though, seems like an unlikely place to find prolific drug use.
However, Yosemite’s Annual Law Enforcement Reports reveals a dark cloud of marijuana smoke hanging over paradise.
Among the backdrop of Yosemite’s breathtaking waterfalls are thousands of people partaking in illegal drug use. This led to 2,393 arrests from 2010 to 2012.
Just last year, park rangers arrested or cited 855 visitors for drug possession.
More people are arrested in Yosemite for drug possession than any other activity including disorderly conduct, theft, and vandalism.
For comparison, from 2010 to 2012, just 365 people in the Grand Canyon were arrested for drug possession, along with 500 people in Yellowstone and 89 in Joshua Tree.
Since 2007, there has been an 18 percent increase in the number of drug arrests and citations in the park, according to Yosemite’s Annual Law Enforcement Reports.
Before you start thinking Yosemite is becoming a crack den, United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng, whose offices serve Yosemite Valley, explained the breakdown in numbers to NBC Bay Area:
“It’s been primarily marijuana, mushrooms, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and then the party drug ecstasy. It just seems that many of the people that are here and spend an awful lot of time have similar sensibilities and that was always traditionally a drug culture.”
Deputy Chief Ranger Julie Byerly didn’t seem too concerned about the numbers, telling NBC Bay Area:
“I don’t think that we’ve got drug dealers on the corners or anything like that. … I think there is a transient drug issue here. You know, largely folks that are coming and going.”