January 29, 2019

Baltimore Will No Longer Prosecute Cannabis Possession Cases

The state’s attorney in Baltimore says her office will no longer prosecute any marijuana possession cases, regardless of the quantity of the drug or an individual’s prior criminal record.

The office is seeking to vacate some 5,000 prior marijuana possession convictions dating to 2011.

Marilyn Mosby says cannabis possession cases have no public safety value, waste money, and disproportionately impact communities of color. She says “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 says her office will still go after dealers and traffickers by prosecuting marijuana distribution cases.

But she says her office is seeking to vacate some 5,000 prior marijuana possession convictions dating to 2011. She says jailing people for marijuana possession is an “ongoing moral failure.”

Olivia Naugle, legislative director for the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group, applauded the decision.

“Decades of arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession did not make Baltimore any safer, and it had a dramatically disproportionate impact on communities of color,” she said. “Countless individuals have been branded with convictions and subjected to life-altering collateral consequences that cause them more harm than marijuana ever could. Unfortunately, this has continued to be the case in Baltimore City even after decriminalization in 2014.”

Naugle also encouraged the rest of the state to follow Mosby’s lead. “The General Assembly can and should put a stop to marijuana possession arrests and their harmful fallout by ending marijuana prohibition once and for all,” she said. “The sooner lawmakers act, the sooner these needless possession arrests will come to an end, not just in Baltimore City but across the state.”

This story will be updated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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