Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore State’s Attorney, recently announced that people possessing marijuana, regardless of quantity, will no longer be prosecuted. Even if someone is arrested with a large amount of marijuana and has a criminal history, the prosecutor’s office in Baltimore will not prosecute for pot possession.
The controversial decision also requests the courts to vacate 5,000 marijuana possession convictions from recent years. On February 12th, Baltimore prosecutors filed papers for marijuana cases dating back to 2011 to be vacated (1,000 in Circuit Court and 3,800 in District Court), and now judges will rule on those requests.
While some support Mosby’s decision, many are opposed, and it will take a while to see how her decision will affect the city of Baltimore.
In 2014, Maryland lawmakers decriminalized possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. This recent bold move by Mosby, some feel, gives drug dealers and marijuana users the green light to sell and use something that is still against the law according to the federal government. During her announcement Mosby stressed that the decision does not advocate drug trafficking as her office would take cases to court when law enforcement discover evidence of drug sales, such as baggies and scales.
Manhattan and Philadelphia have already cut back on or completely stopped prosecuting marijuana possession cases.
At the current time, ten states and Washington, D.C. have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 to use recreationally, and other states are working on legislation to legalize it. Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana and more are poised to follow suit in the near future.
Support and Opposition to No Pot Possession Arrests
Mosby informed interim police commissioner, Gary Tuggle of her plan to stop all prosecutions of marijuana possession, and Tuggle, a former DEA, agent said his officers would not stop arresting people who broke the law by possessing marijuana.
Mosby wants law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes, and she said that minor pot arrests “squander scarce police resources.” Noting the 343 murders in Baltimore in 2017, Mosby asserted “No one thinks spending resources to jail people for marijuana is a good use of our limited time and resources.” Mosby made the announcement surrounded by those who support her decision.
Kurt Schmoke, State’s Attorney and former Baltimore Mayor, supports the decriminalization of marijuana and advocates treating drug addiction as a health crisis not as a matter for the criminal justice system. He also said that in order for Mosby’s policy to be effective, efforts must be coordinated with local law enforcement. Everyone must be on the same page, in other words, for this bold move to achieve its goal of freeing up police officers to focus their time and efforts on serving the community and protecting its citizens from serious crimes and criminals.