Gov. Hogan vetoes sensible legislation; General Assembly may consider override in January
Last update: June 23, 2015
The Maryland General Assembly had a busy 2015 as it relates to reforming the Free State’s marijuana policies. The following were sent to Gov. Larry Hogan (R):
- SB 517, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, would have removed the penalty for marijuana paraphernalia and imposed a civil fine of up to $500 for public smoking. Unfortunately, this incredibly modest proposal was vetoed by the governor. If you are a Marylander, please email your lawmakers and ask them to override this misguided veto when they reconvene in January.
- 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. Thankfully, Gov. Hogan saw fit to sign this sensible bill.
- 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. Gov. Hogan also signed this bill.
The end of session also brought about 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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