The Baltimore Sun recently reported that Marilyn Mosby, the city’s state’s attorney, will no longer prosecute people for possessing marijuana, regardless of the amount of or their prior criminal history. Ms. Mosby also is asking the courts to vacate nearly 5,000 convictions for marijuana possession. She said the reason for this move is that she didn’t believe that pursuing convictions for marijuana possession was a way to make the city safer. Her position follows that of district attorneys in other cities who have ceased to make marijuana possession charges a priority.
Prior to her announcement, which was not supported by local police, Maryland did decriminalize marijuana possession for amounts up to 10 grams. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh largely supported Ms. Mosby’s announcement: “Mosby is attempting to address, namely the unnecessary criminalization of those who possess marijuana merely for personal use. But at the same time, we also need to understand that those who deal illegal substances fuel criminality in our neighborhoods which leads to violence.”
Why the decision was made
The Sun article noted the following facts which helped Ms. Mosby make her decision:
- Criminal convictions for marijuana make it hard for those found guilty to find employment.
- Minority communities in Baltimore are disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.
- Nationally, African-Americans are charged with marijuana possession at a 4:1 rate compared to whites; that rate is 6:1 in Baltimore.
Ms. Mosby stated that police resources could be better used to solve murders, such as the 343 fatalities that occurred in Baltimore in 2017.
Additional drug crime considerations
Ms. Mosby will continue to prosecute cases involving the sale of marijuana. She plants to refer fentanyl crimes to federal courts because fentanyl is a leading contributor to the opioid epidemic.
The State’s Attorney for Baltimore County, however, said he will continue to prosecute marijuana possession cases. The County Attorney claims that most first-time offenders are placed in a drug treatment program.
What this means for you
Anyone arrested for marijuana possession should seek immediate legal help. If the offense occurred in Baltimore, there may be avenues to dismiss current charges and vacate old convictions. If you were charged and convicted of a marijuana-related crime in Baltimore, we may be able to help you have your record expunged.
Where prosecutions are still proceeding, there are often defenses. There are also programs that can be used instead of criminal prosecution for some defendants. To understand your rights, call Carey Law Office in Bowie or Crofton at 301-464-2500 or fill out the contact form [tel] or fill out our contact form to arrange a free consultation. We will get through this together.