Public Forum to Shine Light on Marijuana Policy and Racial Justice in Baltimore City

Retired Baltimore police officer and Maryland State Police Maj. Neill Franklin will serve as keynote speaker

Baltimore, MD — A public forum titled, “Legalizing Marijuana: The Impact on Racial Justice in Baltimore City,” will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the Baltimore War Memorial at 101 N. Gay St.

The forum will address the disproportionate impact of marijuana enforcement on people of color in Baltimore City, as well as the prospects for eliminating that disparity through the regulation of marijuana. The event is sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project in partnership with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition. It is free and open to the public. Details can be found here.

“It’s time for our state legislature to do right by its people and end the prohibition of marijuana in Maryland. A regulated market will not only end disparate policing practices, but it will free our police to focus more resources on crimes of violence.” – Maj. Neill Franklin, retired Baltimore police officer and Maryland State Police

The Department of Justice recently reported that African-Americans in Baltimore are five times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than people of other races; marijuana is the substance that is most commonly involved. Many people in Maryland were criminally charged with marijuana possession in 2015 despite the state’s adoption of a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, and 96% of them were African-American, according to Baltimore City records.

The keynote speaker will be retired Baltimore police officer and Maryland State Police Maj. Neill Franklin, a 34-year law enforcement veteran who now serves as executive director of LEAP. Prior to joining the Baltimore Police Department, Franklin spent 23 years with the Maryland State Police Department, during which time he worked as an undercover narcotics officer and as head trainer for drug enforcement.

“In many states across this country we have begun the work of ending mass arrests for marijuana possession, yet in my home city of Baltimore we continue using marijuana as a pretext for stops, searches and arrests, resulting in the disenfranchisement of Black citizens,” said Franklin. “It’s time for our state legislature to do right by its people and end the prohibition of marijuana in Maryland. A regulated market will not only end disparate policing practices, but it will free our police to focus more resources on crimes of violence.”

WHAT:
Public forum on marijuana policy and racial justice in Baltimore City

WHEN:
Tuesday, December 13, 6:30 p.m. ET

WHERE:
Baltimore War Memorial, Assembly Room, 101 N. Gay Street, Baltimore

WHO:
Maj. Neill Franklin, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Kate Bell, Marijuana Policy Project
Community activists

About The Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. For more information, click here.

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