In Baltimore, Marijuana Possession Is No Longer Grounds For Prosecution

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby joins with prosecutors nationwide who have opted out of prosecuting low-level marijuana cases and vacating old marijuana convictions.
Tanya A. Christian Jan, 29, 2019

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Tuesday that her office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases regardless of quantity or criminal history. The move adds Baltimore to a growing list of cities who have taken the measure in hopes of achieving a more just criminal justice system.

Mosby’s office also agreed to clear the records of those who had prior convictions for marijuana possession dating back to 2011. In all, the city’s top prosecutor has asked to vacate the sentences of nearly 5,000 people. The move should assist Baltimore residents who have been negatively affected by the stain on their criminal records.

“We need to get serious about prioritizing what actually makes us safe, 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,” Mosby said in a press release.

Though marijuana possession cases will not be pursued, the State’s Attorney’s office will prosecute those who have an intent to distribute. Even then, first-time offenders will be referred to a diversion program oppose to serving jail time.

Mosby said her reasoning for the new policy is that “Communities are still sentenced under these unjust policies, still paying a price for behavior that is already legal for millions of Americans.”

The youngest chief prosecutor of any major American city also added that jailing people for marijuana possession is wasteful to the city’s resources and could be used in other areas that will help keep Baltimore residents safe.

The new policy takes effect immediately.