State’s Attorney Says Drug-Deal Homicides Involve Marijuana

State’s Attorney Says Drug-Deal Homicides Involve Marijuana

Five deaths in the past two years involved ‘large amounts’ of the drug

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Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy speaks to a County Council committee meeting this week.

Caitlynn Peetz

All of the county’s drug distribution-related homicides in the past two years involved marijuana, according to the county’s lead prosecutor.

“We haven’t found one where the drug being distributed was not marijuana,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at a County Council committee meeting this week. “I don’t have an explanation for that other than it’s a fact in Montgomery County.”

Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for McCarthy’s office, wrote in an email on Wednesday that there have been five drug-related homicides in the past two years, all “associated with large amounts of marijuana.”

McCarthy said that despite the decriminalization of marijuana possession in Maryland five years ago, a black market for the drug remains. The black market offers cheaper and “better quality dope,” so there’s “still money to be made there,” he said.

In Montgomery County, the state’s attorney’s office does not prosecute cases in which people are accused of possessing marijuana, nor does it prosecute most marijuana distribution cases that involve less than 10 grams.

Offenders for marijuana possession of 10 grams – about a third of an ounce — or less can be given fines of $25 to $50 depending on whether it is a first or second offense.

If a person is accused of selling marijuana in a public place or in a manner that has a “community impact,” prosecution could be considered, McCarthy said.

“Quite candidly, it’s hard to get a jury, it’s hard to get a judge to take it seriously and, in most instances, the public wants to know why we’re there,” McCarthy said.

Not pursuing prosecution saves the county money, he said, because the drugs are not sent to a crime lab for testing and processing and because officers are not summoned to court, which often results in overtime.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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