BALTIMORE (WMAR) — With his eyes on City Hall, Maryland's former Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah plans to boost Baltimore's economy by taxing its marijuana market.
A statement released from Vignarajah contains a proposal for Baltimore to become the first city in the nation to issue permits and tax cannabis sales without state or federal approval. Vignarajah believes taxing marijuana can reduce violent crime, create well-paying jobs, reduce overdoses and fund education.
The proposal also highlights the monumental changes across the country when it comes to marijuana laws.
"It’s time for Baltimore to lead, not follow," said Vignarajah.
He calls for "communities of color" to be the first to benefit from permits due to the collateral damage of failed war on drug policies, granting priority to historically-disadvantaged business owners of color and companies committed to hiring non-violent offenders.
The plan also included a $250 million annual revenue for education that outlines universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old child, repairs and improvements at K-12 facilities, free college, community college, or trade school for public high school graduates, and funding to grow the endowments of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Vignarajah said that this will not be a repeat of past failed promised funds for education, like casinos. The proposed funds will support and boost new and established programs.
"With ingenuity and leadership, we can still bring the marijuana trade out of the dangerous shadows," said the mayoral candidate.
The former prosecutor announced that he is running for Mayor of Baltimore in 2020 earlier this month.