Anyone carrying cannabis in Baltimore City can breathe a little easier as State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has announced that her office will no longer be prosecuting cannabis possession cases.
The office will not be pursuing marijuana possession cases of any amount, regardless of an individual’s criminal history.
In cases where the intent to distribute can be proven, first-time felony offenders will be referred to diversion.
“We need to get serious about prioritizing what actually makes us safe,” said Mosby in a news release. “And no one who is serious about public safety can honestly say that spending resources to jail people for marijuana use is a smart way to use our limited time and money.”
Mosby said that putting people in jail for cannabis possession wastes the city’s finite resources that should be devoted to other uses which are tied to public safety such as policing and homicide prosecution.
There are more than 600,000 residents in Baltimore, and the city has witnessed a murder nearly every day for the past three years. But while homicides have risen, arrest rates for them have dropped to around 30 to 40 percent; lower than the national average of 60 percent.
“The statistics are damning when it comes to the disproportionate impact that the ‘War on Drugs’ has had on communities of color,” said Mosby. “As your State’s Attorney, I pledged to institute change and I refuse to stand by and be a facilitator of injustice and inequity when it is clear that we can be so much smarter and do so much more on behalf of the people we serve.”
Mosby is looking to erase nearly 5,000 prior cannabis convictions dating back to 2011 and intends to propose legislation that would allow prosecutors to vacate convictions in the interest of justice.