Baltimoreons will no longer find themselves in court for possessing cannabis. Taking the initiative to reform local cannabis policy from within, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby declared that they will not prosecute any marijuana possession cases moving forward.
These “common sense changes,” which are to be implemented immediately, also state that the quantity a person has will not matter, and neither will the person’s criminal history, as long as it is only for personal use.
Intent to distribute charges will still be prosecuted in Baltimore City, but first time offenders are more likely to enter into a felony deferment program. Nearly 5,000 marijuana possession convictions that have occurred since 2011 may be overturned as well. The office of the top prosecutor will begin looking into this soon.
“We need to get serious about prioritizing what actually makes us safe,” said Mosby in a press 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.”
Homicide arrest rates in Baltimore have decreased over the last three years, while the murder rate has increased to an average of almost one per day in a city with a population of more than 611,000. Mosby believes police resources are wasted on marijuana possession cases, and wants to focus on finding violent repeat offenders.
“Law enforcement pays a steep cost in the form of public trust when we spend resources on things like marijuana and simultaneously fail to solve and successfully prosecute homicides,” Mosby said. “Ask any mother who has lost a son to gun violence whether she wants us to spend more time solving and prosecuting her son’s killer or to spend time on marijuana possession. It’s not a close question.”
Mosby’s office released a paper, “Reforming A Broken System: Rethinking The Role Of Marijuana Prosecutions In Baltimore City,” detailing the changes in policy.
Voters in Maryland approved medical cannabis in 2014, and a recent poll from Gonzales Research found that 58 percent believe marijuana should be legalized.