UPDATED 9:11 AM PT — Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Baltimore’s state attorney revealed her office will no longer be prosecuting individuals on marijuana possession charges. Marilyn Mosby made the announcement at a briefing at the Center for Urban Families on Tuesday.
“I’m announcing a monumental shift in public policy as it relates to marijuana possession in the city of Baltimore,” she stated. “Effective immediately, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases regardless of weight and or criminal history.”
However, Mosby went on to say her office will continue to prosecute distribution of marijuana cases as long as there remains evidence of intent to distribute.
“The shift in our policy on marijuana possession should in no way be misconstrued as us not understanding the magnitude of the drug crisis or taking it easy on drug dealers,” explained the state attorney. “We will continue to prosecute individuals who are in possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, because we are fully committed to eradicate the scourge of drugs and the horror it enacts on far too many families.”
In the meantime, Mosby is requesting the courts cancel prior convictions in nearly 5,000 possession cases dating back to 2011.
She is also working to refer anyone charged for the first time with felony possession with intent to distribute to a diversion program in an effort to reduce criminal records that could potentially limit an individual’s future employment, education and housing opportunities.
Mosby has defended the decision by claiming possession charges have no effect on public safety and primarily only impact communities of color.
“There is no public safety value in prosecuting marijuana possession,” she commented. “Furthermore, there is no link between marijuana possession and violent crime as is illustrated by more than half of the states across the nation that have now legalized marijuana in some form, and yet, violent crime has not risen.”
While many lawmakers are optimistic for the decision, Baltimore’s police commissioner reaffirmed arrests for illegal marijuana possession will still continue as marijuana remains illegal in Maryland.