Baltimore Takes A Softer Stance On Pot Convictions

With all this talk about Marijuana being legalized in Colorado, Washington, and California, you often wonder how does that affect other states in the United States? What happens to the “criminals” who went to jail for possession of the once dangerous herbal leaf? Well, Baltimore is making some changes since the drug’s newly found acceptance in this country. I figured that’d happen eventually.

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In an article published in the Huffington Post yesterday, Maryland State’s Attorney for Baltimore Gregg Bernstein says, “I don’t want some 19-year-old young person, who gets picked up because he’s standing on a corner in a bad neighborhood smoking a blunt, to get some sort of conviction that prevents him from going to college, getting a job. We have to figure out a way to change that.” He’s makes a good point. People who aren’t causing any problems in the neighborhood with the drug shouldn’t be thrown into jail for simply smoking it. I mean it’s actually legal in this country somewhere.

Bernstein is creating some kind of “court diversion” – letting offenders avoid convictions and jail time by performing community service or, in some cases, paying fines. Other cities have adopted this same strategy, like Philadelphia, PA. People who support his proposal believe that this allows persecutors to go after more serious cases and offenses. Bernstein also says this move has saved the city a lot of money though it’s uncertain exactly how much.

With increase in marijuana usage, Bernstein was motivated 3 years ago to try his program on first-offenders, but also people arrested for the second time. He explains in the article, “It’s a one-day program. You get a lecture by a certified drug counselor, and then you do five hours of community service, and if you do all those things, then we dismiss the case.” Sounds pretty easy to do for those who are lost of pride.

You could say that the community service work is majority busy work, sort of sweeping the streets of trash kind of work. But that’s better than being convicted of a crime and being labeled as a convict, right?

I think they should get rid of the entire conviction in all. Of course, that won’t happen until it’s completely legal here, and I doubt that’s happening anytime soon, though it seems we’re slightly a step closer. Users should still avoid using the drug because of the consequences that come with having this conviction on their records. Employers continue to see it.

What do you think should be done about these weed convictions? Should they do away with it or should they keep programs like this intact? Comment below with your views. Too read the Huffington Post article about Pot Convictions, click here.

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