A state’s attorney in Maryland, Marilyn Mosby, announced this week at a press conference that the city of Baltimore will stop prosecuting crimes associated with cannabis consumption, according to a report from The Baltimore Sun. Mosby says that she will instruct courts and law enforcement agencies not to prosecute people for simple cannabis possession, regardless of what kind of criminal history an individual has.
In addition, Mosby has requested that courts within the city of Baltimore stop pursuing and throw out around 5,000 cases of simple cannabis possession that currently exist on the books. When asked about the thought process behind removing criminal charges for cannabis possession, Mosby pointed to the fact that possessing a plant usually doesn’t harm anyone.
“When I ask myself: Is the enforcement and prosecution of marijuana possession making us safer as a city? The answer is emphatically no,” said Mosby.
Even though there were no city representatives or law enforcement present at the press conference, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said that she supports Mosby’s push to stop prosecuting cannabis crimes.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Mosby went on to say that cannabis arrests have a negative impact on the job potential of Maryland residents, and have also resulted in the unnecessary criminal records of thousands of otherwise law-abiding individuals. Additionally, Mosby rightly identified the fact that Maryland police resources should not be wasted on people who are in simple possession of the cannabis plant.
Mosby then went on to bring up the murder statistics in Baltimore. In 2018, there were 309 murders, but only 25% of them were solved. Mosby expressed her displeasure at that number, stating what cannabis advocates have always said – that police should be using their time and resources to go after real crimes with real victims.
No surprisingly, Baltimore police commissioner Gary Tuggle said he has no plans to order city officers to stop arresting peaceful people for possessing a plant medicine. (Tuggle is a former DEA agent.) Baltimore police also expressed a resistance to Mosby’s initiative, but the state’s attorney countered by stating that she will continue to seek support outside of her office.
Mosby isn’t the only state official in a major U.S. city to announce their intent in removing penalties for cannabis possession. Within the past two to three month, state officials in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas have also announced plans to pass bills that will decriminalize or legalize cannabis.
Will Mosby’s efforts be effective, or will it be “business as usual” for cannabis arrests in Baltimore? Will we just have to wait and see.