Decriminalization of cannabis is not enough. A recent analysis from the Baltimore Fishbowl and the Baltimore Institute for Nonprofit Journalism revealed that 1,450 out of the 1,514 people arrested by Baltimore police for cannabis possession during 2015, 2016 and 2017 were black.
Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession in October 2014, meaning that anyone caught with less than 10 grams of cannabis would receive a citation, rather than be arrested. Possession of over 10 grams (and up to 50 pounds) was categorized as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison or an $1,000 fine. The move was supposed to reduce encounters with the criminal justice system for marijuana possession. However, since decriminalization took effect, the number of marijuana misdemeanor arrests and charges has remained more or less static, while marijuana citations have climbed significantly.
“Recreational marijuana should be legal in the state of Maryland,” said Councilman Brandon Scott. “I think that hopefully folks that will see this data—that is not surprising or shocking to me—will see that.”
Check out the graphics below that illustrate the stark racism at play in Baltimore’s marijuana policing, and read the full report here.
Ninety-six out of 100 people arrested for cannabis possession in Baltimore from 2015-2017 were black, data from the FBI show. Graphic by Charlie Herrick
The number of misdemeanor cannabis possession charges filed in Baltimore zip codes from 2015-2017, scaled by median incomes. Graphic and research by Andy Friedman
The number of cannabis possession arrests in Baltimore from 2015-2017, by adult or juvenile status and race. Graphic by Charlie Herrick / Research by Andy Friedman
Image via Baltimore Fishbowl