Maryland election results generally positive for marijuana policy reform
Last update: November 14, 2018
While unfortunately Ben Jealous (D), a strong supporter of taxing and regulating marijuana, did not win the governor’s race, the popular incumbent, Gov. Hogan (R), has expressed willingness to examine the issue. In addition, a longtime opponent of marijuana policy reform, House Judiciary Chairman Joe Vallario, will not be returning to the legislature in January, and a few new state senators will take office whose views on marijuana policy reform are more favorable than those they are replacing.
We are optimistic that, with encouragement, the Maryland General Assembly will seriously consider the issue in the coming years. Please ask your state delegate(s) and senator to support replacing marijuana prohibition with thoughtful regulation.
Improvements to decriminalization law blocked in 2018
Two bills that would have expanded Maryland’s existing decriminalization law, SB 127 and SB 128, both sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, easily passed the Senate during the 2018 session. Unfortunately, they did not even get a vote in the House Judiciary Committee, so no progress was made on this issue during the 2018 session.
Maryland’s medical program is finally up and running!
Finally, after one of the slowest rollouts in the country, some of Maryland’s dispensaries began opening their doors and serving patients in late 2017. This is great news for patients, who have waited years for access. In addition, patients are now able to access Washington, D.C.’s dispensaries using their Maryland medical card.
Several bills that would have greatly harmed the medical program, including HB 1668, which would have required medical professionals to put themselves at risk under federal law by recommending a specific quantity of cannabis for each patient, were defeated in the 2018 session. Also, a bill that is aimed at increasing the number of minority-owned businesses in the industry passed in 2018.
New law makes expunging past marijuana possession offenses easier
Thanks in part to MPP’s advocacy, marijuana policy in Maryland took a step forward during the 2017 session with the passage of SB 949, which reduced the waiting period for expungement of a marijuana possession offense from 10 years to four years. This law helps people suffering from the many collateral consequences of a prior conviction, which can make it harder to find a job, travel, or obtain housing or an education. If you can’t afford an attorney to help you with your expungement, you can either file the paperwork yourself (this website has more information) or look for an upcoming expungement clinic where you can get free legal help here. (Unfortunately, MPP is not able to provide legal advice to individuals.)
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