2015 session brings both victories and obstacles
Last update: November 6, 2015
In 2015, the General Assembly, with the approval of Gov. Larry Hogan, enacted legislation to improve Maryland’s medical marijuana law by, among other changes, removing the requirement that patients be enrolled in a medical marijuana research program in order to qualify. The governor also signed legislation that allows individuals who have been convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors, such as possession of marijuana or paraphernalia, to apply to have those records shielded from certain records requests, such as requests from potential employers or schools.
Meanwhile, however, the governor vetoed SB 517, a modest but important proposal sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin. This legislation would have removed the criminal penalty for marijuana paraphernalia and imposed a civil fine of up to $500 for public smoking. If you are a Marylander, please email your lawmakers and ask them to override this misguided veto when they reconvene in January.
Legislation that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol was not voted on, but champions in Annapolis advanced the conversation and increased support. Please ensure that conversation continues into 2016 and beyond by emailing your lawmakers in support of ending marijuana prohibition today.
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
The 2014 session brought about 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. The 2014 medical marijuana law empowered the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission to provide relief to patients without the participation of hospitals and to register dispensaries and growers to provide medical cannabis directly to registered patients whose certifying physicians recommend it.
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