State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore, Maryland said this week she will stop prosecuting cannabis crimes, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Mosby has promised to not prosecute for cannabis no matter the criminal history of an individual. Mosby also called for the Baltimore courts to vacate 5,000 existing cases of cannabis possession.
“When I ask myself: Is the enforcement and prosecution of marijuana possession making us safer as a city? The answer is emphatically no.” — Marilyn Mosby, via The Baltimore Sun
Other prosecutors in major cities across the country have made similar moves recently. At the press conference for the announcement, however, no representatives from the city of Baltimore or law enforcement were on hand. After the conference, however, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced her support for Mosby’s move.
Mosby said that cannabis prosecutions have derailed job searches and resulted in thousands of unnecessary criminal records, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects minority communities. National statistics show that African-Americans are arrested for cannabis crimes at four times the rate of white people, despite similar usage rates between the two demographics.
Mosby also pointed out that police resources are wasted on cannabis crimes. The police case closure rate for murders in Baltimore — of which there were 309 in 2018 — is about 25%, meaning that 75% of murderers in Baltimore go unsolved. It seems silly to worry about cannabis possession or even distribution with a statistic like that.
Interim police commissioner Gary Tuggle, a former DEA agent, said he would not order his officers to cease arresting people for cannabis crimes. Despite police resistance to the initiative, Mosby is attempting to mobilize support outside of her own office.
Cannabis advocates are on her side. “We applaud State’s Attorney Mosby. Decades of arresting people for marijuana possession did not make Baltimore safer,” said Olivia Naugle of the Marijuana Policy Project.
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