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I've seen many people on StackExchange and other forums mention that you can drop something as a free action, but I've never seen it sourced, or come across support for it in the Player's Handbook. The "Other Activity on Your Turn" section (p. 190) makes no mention of dropping items.

I've personally been ruling that dropping an item counts as an "interaction with the environment", but seeing how frequently I've seen people say otherwise I'm assuming I'm missing something.

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The only indication we have within the rules that dropping things might be free is that dropping an object is not included in the (fairly extensive) list of example object interactions.

However, Jeremy Crawford has stated in an unofficial tweet from April 2015 that dropping something you're holding is not intended to require any action.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be off topic, but does Crawford's opinion seem incompatible with being unable to cast a spell while holding a two handed weapon? You can't take a hand off a weapon in one context, but in the other its fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnionDruid
    Oct 24 '15 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OnionDruid I haven't heard of anyone objecting to taking one hand off a two-handed weapon to cast a spell before... \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Oct 24 '15 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Crawford tweet is ambiguously stated ("no appreciable effort" has no game meaning). However, I agree with your answer and run my table that way. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2 '17 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ A two-handed weapon requires two hands to use, but not hold. Relaxing/releasing your grip does not require active effort. Gravity will take objects once its force exceeds the amount of resistance given by your grip. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Sep 11 '20 at 19:02
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Dropping a weapon isn't specifically listed in the Player's Handbook, but I think it would be covered under "interacting with an object/the variety of flourishes" as described in the section "Other Activity on Your Turn":

Your turn can include a variety of flourishes that require neither your action nor your move.

You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn.

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your move or your action. For example. you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's the "free object interaction action", which you only have one per turn. Some have argued that dropping an object is truly free, in that you can both use the free object interaction action and drop an object in the same turn. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 11 at 20:06

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