Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday that prosecutors will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases.
"Prosecuting these cases has no public safety value, disproportionately impacts communities of color and erodes public trust, and is a costly and counterproductive use of limited resources," a statement from Mosby's office said.
Mosby said the policy change is a major shift and that families have been destroyed by what she calls the so-called "War on Drugs." She said there's no violent crime associated with marijuana possession.
"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," Mobsy said.
Mosby said she will vacate almost 5,000 cases involving marijuana possession dating back to 2011, but will prosecute intent to deliver cases.
The State's Attorney's Office is making the following changes to its marijuana policy:
Mosby is also calling on Baltimore's law enforcement community to join her in support of her vision of safety for the city.
"I'm calling on my partners in law enforcement to join my office in this effort," Mosby said in a statement. "We need leaders here in Baltimore who are actively working toward a vision of safety that makes all of us more secure in our great city -- that can't happen when we're focused on marijuana possession cases instead of solving and prosecuting more murders."
"Obviously, it's the state's attorney's prerogative to do that. I'm not going to order our officers not to make those arrests. We see the impact -- the negative impact -- that marijuana has in our communities," Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said. "At the end of the day, the last thing that we need in Baltimore is another illegal substance, and I think that until the Legislature decides to change the law, we're going to continue to enforce it."
Mosby said she will also propose legislation that would give prosecutors the power to vacate convictions.
"I do (see marijuana as a link to violent crime), almost every day. You can ask any one of my commanders about that. It shows itself every single day in Baltimore," Tuggle said.
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