Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Tuesday that Baltimore will no longer be prosecuting marijuana possession, regardless of weight or criminal history.
The decision to end prosecution was based on a “lack of a demonstrable public safety benefit, the resource drain that resolving marijuana possession cases places on prosecutors, and the racially unjust manner in which these laws have been, and continue to be, enforced nationally and in Baltimore City.” It was found that in areas where recreational use of recreational marijuana, there was no related increase in crime. By ending prosecution of marijuana possession, the city will be able to provide more resources towards investigating homicides. In 2018 the clearance rate for homicides in Baltimore was 26 percent. Even though marijuana use is comparable across racial and ethnic lines, 80 percent of people in federal prison and 60 percent of people in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latinx.
Mosby also stated that Baltimore will still continue to prosecute marijuana possession with intent to distribute. First time felony drug distribution offenses will be referred to the AIM to B’More Diversion Program. The program includes an assessment of serious or chronic disorders and treatment if necessary. Participants also work with a social worker and undergo a two year probation period. Full compliance of the probation can all for the petition for expungement. The program has a recidivism rate of 32 percent, which is less than half of the natural average of 68 percent.
In 2010 Maryland had the fourth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the country, with 1 in 250 Maryland residents being arrested for marijuana possession. In an attempt to “right the wrongs of the past,” Mosby is also seeking to vacate marijuana convictions in 1,050 Circuit Court cases and in 3,778 District Court cases dating from 2011.
Many states across the country have taken steps toward legalizing marijuana and reducing convictions. In November Michigan voted to to legalize the use of recreational marijuana and Utah legalized medicinal marijuana. In October California enacted a law allowed for the dismissal or recall of marijuana convictions if the conviction would not be against the current laws of the state.