Baltimore's State Attorney Marilyn Mosby confirmed the state would no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases, regardless of the quantity or the owner's criminal background. In her view, these cases lack public safety value, and she would prefer to focus on more important safety issues such as gun safety and homicides.
In a statement released by her office, Mosby also added that marijuana possession cases in Baltimore often lead to social tensions, affecting communities of color and eroding trust in the authorities. Mosby asserted that in Baltimore, the highest amount of citations, even after decriminalization, are issued to people from Afro-American descent. Although studies have shown that there is no difference in marijuana consumption between black and white people, the number of black locals arrested in Maryland for marijuana possession is significantly higher, Vincent Southerland, executive director at the New York University School of Law's Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law commented.
Plus, continued Mosby, putting people to jail for marijuana possession is a moral failure and a way too expensive for a small community with limited public and human capital resources. However, she made it clear she would continue prosecuting cases involving the distribution of marijuana. In addition to that, Mosby also proposed to refer to a diversion program people charged for the first time with felony possession to distribute marijuana.
Moreover, the Baltimore State Attorney is now working to vacate 5,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 2011. The state has recently joined the long list of U.S. cities to pardon marijuana convictions. For instance, last year the city of Seattle has confirmed it would vacate marijuana possession convictions from 1996 to 2010, highlighting they disproportionally affected people of color. Apart from Seattle, San Francisco, and Manhattan have also confirmed they would dismiss numerous pot convictions retroactively.
So far, ten U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. As far as Maryland is concerned, legislation to decriminalize possession of small quantities of marijuana was approved in 2014.
What does the Baltimore police think about the policy change? The local Police Commissioner, Gary Tuggle did not support Mosby, saying that the officers would continue arresting for illegal marijuana possession until the law is changed. In return, Mosby pointed out she would release those people without pressing charges.
What do you think? Do you agree that possession of small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use should be legally allowed nationwide?