BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A former Maryland Deputy Attorney General believes that marijuana could be an economic benefit to the City of Baltimore.

Mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah said he would issue permits and tax the city’s marijuana trade.

“Baltimore has to take the lead here,” Vignarajah said. “This is an opportunity to cut violence and overdose deaths to make sure we address the racial gap and equities and raise revenue.”

Vignarajah’s plan includes $250 million of annual tax revenue which would go to education including upgrading K-12 facilities and free college in Maryland for public school graduates.

The position paper reads in part:

“The marijuana marketplace is currently a chaotic free-for-all. We are not prosecuting users or dealers anymore; medical dispensaries are untaxed and unrepresentative; and street marijuana is more dangerous than ever, as the drugs are now sometimes laced with fentanyl or K2.”

In January, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced her office would stop prosecuting people for possessing marijuana regardless of the quantity.

“This is an opportunity to bring a trade that’s been in the black market for too long out of the shadows,” Vignarajah said.

Vignarajah announced his intentions to run in the 2020 mayor’s race but has not formally filed to run. Until then, he said that date on the position paper, April 20, was no accident.

Similar legislation to tax recreational marijuana was introduced to the State Legislature by several Democrats in 2017, but the measure did not pass.

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