Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, said on Tuesday that she would stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases regardless of quantity or prior criminal record.
Mosby also urged state legislators to support a bill allowing her to vacate almost 5,000 criminal convictions, including corrupt police cases.
“For far too long, we have sat back and watched certain communities and families destroyed by failed policies of the so-called ‘War on Drugs.’ The effects of these failed policies have been especially dire for cities like Baltimore, where for decades, we’ve criminalized what is now nationally considered a public health crisis. The statistics are damning when it comes to the disproportionate impact that the war on drugs has had on communities of color,” Mosby said.
More than 90 percent of the citations for low-level possession between 2015 and 2017 were issued to Blacks.
Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the ACLU.
Mosby also said there is “no link” between marijuana possession and violent crime, and that the 10 states (plus D.C.) that have legalized adult recreational use have not seen an increase in violence as a result.
“When I ask myself, ‘Is the enforcement and prosecution of marijuana possession making us safer as a city’ the answer is emphatically no. There is no public safety value in prosecuting marijuana possession.”
Under Mosby’s plan, first time offenders of felony distribution will be automatically referred to a diversion program designed to promote job readiness. If they complete It, their cases can be expunged.
Elimination of records can make the difference between earning a living and poverty and crime.
In Baltimore, nearly a quarter of all residents live below the poverty level. Close to 30 percent of the Black population live in poverty, higher than every other race. There are over 36,000 people in prisons in the state and 68 percent are Black.
“It was not a war on drugs, but a war on Black people, a war on brown people, a war on poor people,” said neighborhood activist Dayvon Love, of the group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. “Think about all the generations that have been lost.”
Mosby marijuana decision puts her at odds with BPD