Baltimore, MD - May 16, 2023:
During yesterday’s Special City Council Meeting, the Baltimore City Council passed legislation that will create the Community Reinvestment and Reparations Commission. This is an act that aims to address inequities that have plagued marginalized communities for generations. Reports show that, between 2001 and 2010, there were more than 8 million cannabis arrests in the United States – of which 88 percent were for possession. And, closer to home, the arrest rate in Maryland during that same period of time was 1 out of every 250 Maryland residents in possession of marijuana, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Despite only making up about 30 percent of Maryland’s population and Black people using cannabis at the same rate as every other demographic in the state, they made up 59 percent of those cannabis-related arrests. Additionally, the ACLU found that, in Baltimore, 92 percent of marijuana possession arrest rates were Black – an astounding 6,461 to 555 for white residents.
The numbers don’t lie – these arrests for low-level illegal substances changed the trajectory of countless lives and families. Arrests and incarcerations prevented some from earning a trade certification or obtaining a college degree and landing gainful employment. This legislation will see that the Commission ensures that funds from the State of Maryland generated from the sale of legalized marijuana are equitably distributed to communities that have historically been disproportionately marginalized by marijuana arrests.
While the establishment of this Commission aims to equitably distribute funds received from the state from marijuana sales tax on a quarterly basis, we know that it will – in no way – erase the wrongs that have been done to so many people. It is our hope that, in some way, this will create opportunities for underinvested communities to receive the resources they need to build and maintain generational wealth, giving present and future Baltimore residents opportunities to access the financial stability that has been evident in other communities.
I am proud to have introduced this bill and am pleased that my colleagues see the positive impact that it will have on Baltimoreans today and in future generations. I’m excited to see what comes of this landmark legislation.
Nick J. Mosby
City Council President