Last Update: April 14, 2015
Session adjourns; Sensible reforms sent to Gov. Hogan's desk
The Maryland General Assembly adjourned its 2015 session on April 13, but not before sending Gov. Larry Hogan a handful of proposals that sensibly reform the Free State’s marijuana policies.
- The Second Chance Act would allow individuals who have been convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors, such as possessing marijuana or paraphernalia, to apply to have those records shielded from certain records requests from potential employers or schools. The application could not be filed until three years after any sentence was served.
- HB 490 would improve Maryland’s medical marijuana law, including by removing the requirement that patients be enrolled in a medical marijuana research program at an academic hospital.
Unfortunately, the end of session also means the end of the line for good bills. Lawmakers chose not to move forward on legislation that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol, but they advanced the conversation. Please ensure that conversation continues by emailing your lawmakers in support of ending marijuana prohibition today. Finally, HB 615, which sought to prohibit a marijuana citation or other non-jailable offense from being considered a violation of parole or probation, failed to make it out of the General Assembly.
MPP is proud to be a member of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, which is leading the charge for sensible marijuana policy in Maryland. This large and growing coalition includes the ACLU of Maryland, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, the Marijuana Policy Project, UFCW Local 400, the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, and more than a dozen other organizations.
2014: A year of reform
Last year saw several victories for marijuana policy reform in Maryland. On April 14, 2014, then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation to remove criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, along with twin bills that will finally provide qualifying patients with safe, legal access to medical marijuana.
The decriminalization law replaced criminal penalties and possible jail time with civil fines for those possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. Details are available here. Meanwhile, the 2014 medical marijuana law empowered the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission to provide relief to patients without the participation of hospitals. The state’s old 2013 medical marijuana law relied on teaching hospitals to become involved in the distribution of marijuana. Unsurprisingly, none have done so. The new, updated law allows dispensaries and growers to provide medical cannabis directly to registered patients whose certifying physicians recommend it.
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