Bill to shield 200,000 marijuana convictions sent to Gov. Hogan's desk!
Last update: March 24, 2020
Just before the General Assembly adjourned its 2020 session early in light of the coronavirus, it approved HB 83 — a bill that would automatically shield past cannabis charges occurring before October 1, 2014 in which possession was the only charge in the case. The bill now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk.
If enacted, HB 83 would shield nearly 200,000 past cannabis possession charges from public view on the Judiciary’s “Case Search” website. Unfortunately, this is not a full record expungement. Full record expungement of marijuana possession is available by application after four years. You can find more information on expungement here.
House approves decriminalization expansion
On March 11, the House of Delegates approved (93-44) a bill that would increase the amount of marijuana decriminalized in Maryland from 10 grams to one ounce. The bill is waiting for consideration by the Senate; however, it was not taken up before the legislature adjourned early on March 18, 2020. The legislature will hold a special session at the end of May.
The bill — HB 550 — would make possession of up to an ounce of cannabis punishable by a civil fine of $100 rather than a criminal penalty that carries possible jail time. Also, a person could no longer be charged with possession with intent to distribute based solely on possession of an ounce or less. Please take a minute to ask your senator to support HB 550.
Marijuana work group does not recommend legalization in 2020
Early in the 2019 legislative session, leaders of the General Assembly, former Senate President Mike Miller and the late House Speaker Michael Busch, created a legislative work group to study how to best implement the legalization of marijuana. The work group met during the interim, but ultimately came to the consensus they would not recommend legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2020. However, the legislature could now be on track to seriously consider legalization in 2021.
Poll after poll has shown that Marylanders support legalization and regulation for adults’ use. Let your lawmakers know it’s past time to take cannabis off the illicit market and to stop the trauma caused by prohibition.
Legislature approves allowing medical cannabis to be administered during school hours
Both chambers of the General Assembly have voted to approve HB 617, "Conner and Raina’s Law,” which would allow the administration of medical cannabis to students who are qualifying patients during school hours and school-sponsored events. The bill also increases the number of caregivers a patient under 18 may be assigned from two to four. The bill now awaits final approval from Gov. Larry Hogan.
In other news, a bill that would allow physician assistants to be certifying providers has also been approved by the legislature.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession
In late January 2019, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that her office would no longer prosecute marijuana possession, regardless of the amount or criminal history. In Baltimore City, arrests for marijuana possession — almost entirely and disproportionately African American Baltimoreans — have continued even post-decriminalization in 2014.
MPP’s Olivia Naugle (left) joins State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby as she announces the non-prosecution policy.
Photo credit: Image from video posted to The Baltimore Sun.
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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