The Baltimore Police Department has said that it will still arrest people for having marijuana, even though the State's Attorney no longer prosecutes marijuana possession in Baltimore.
Mayor Pugh can demand that her new police commissioner stop wasting law enforcement resources on pot possession arrests.
What is Baltimore’s new marijuana policy?
On January 29, 2019, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced a new marijuana policy for her office.
- The Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession for personal use, regardless of the quantity or the person’s criminal history. This means that people who are simply using marijuana will not face jail time for their use.
- Mosby will continue to prosecute distribution of marijuana as long as there is evidence of intent to distribute beyond the mere fact of possession. Such evidence might include scales, a list of sales or multiple individually-wrapped baggies.
- All people charged for the first time with felony possession with intent to distribute or with felony distribution will be referred to diversion, meaning that if they complete a program the charges may be dismissed. But for second or subsequent arrests, cases will proceed as they would have in the past - with the possibility of jail time or probation, depending on the person’s record.
- Mosby also filed court papers to vacate nearly 5,000 marijuana cases dating back to 2011, to ensure that people who have rehabilitated themselves are not harmed by a criminal record for marijuana use.
Why does this matter?
We know, based on decades of research, that prosecuting marijuana use does not make communities safer. In fact, it harms communities of color because police use marijuana use, and often a mere allegation of the smell of marijuana, as a pretext to stop and frisk people. This increases tensions between the community being targeted and the police.
Recent statistics released by Baltimore Fishbowl in December show that approximately 95% of people who were arrested or ticketed for marijuana possession last year were black. Black and white people use marijuana at the same rate, but in Baltimore only black people - and frequently black male youth - are stopped, arrested and run through the criminal justice system for marijuana.
“We need to get serious about prioritizing what actually makes us safe,” said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, “and no one who is serious about public safety can honestly say that spending resources to jail people for marijuana use is a smart way to use our limited time and money.”
What are the facts on marijuana and policing in Baltimore?
Marijuana Arrests Do Not Keep Us Safe:
- States that decriminalized marijuana have seen a dramatic drop in violent crime, including homicide.
- Thirty-three states, including Maryland, have legalized medicinal marijuana for medical purposes. There has been no increase in crime.
- Ten states have now legalized marijuana for recreational use. Legalization of marijuana in Colorado has not led to more youth reporting marijuana use or a statistically significant increase in motor vehicle crashes
- Marijuana Enforcement Uses Valuable Law Enforcement Resources:
- Marijuana Enforcement Is Racist:
Marijuana Arrests Harm Black and Brown Communities:
- Being arrested means a night in jail. That can lead to job loss, lost wages, and difficulty providing child care.
- Marijuana is the fourth most common cause of deportation nationally, and can result in the deportation of a lawful permanent resident.
Marijuana Arrests Erode Community Trust:
- Communities who are harassed by the police do not trust the police.
- Unnecessary arrests cause trauma and anxiety, and can color an entire community’s perception of police.
- Marijuana legalization is coming to Maryland
Baltimore needs to Weed Out Real Crime and end marijuana arrests!