Gov. Hogan vetoes bill to shield past cannabis convictions
Last update: May 9, 2020
Just before the legislature adjourned its shortened 2020 session, lawmakers approved a bill — HB 83 — that would automatically shield past cannabis charges occurring before October 1, 2014 in which possession was the only charge in the case. Sadly, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the legislation.
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.
Decriminalization expansion fails in shortened 2020 session
On March 11, 2020, 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 was waiting for consideration by the Senate; however, it was not taken up before the legislature adjourned early on March 18, 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. We’re hopeful the work group will finish its work later this year, and put the legislature on track to seriously consider legalization in 2021.
Gov. Hogan allows improvements to medical cannabis program to become law without his signature
On May 7, 2020, Gov. Hogan allowed HB 617/ SB 604, “Connor and Raina’s Law,” to become law without his signature. The bill allows for the administration of medical cannabis to students who are qualifying patients during school hours and school-sponsored events. The Department of Education and the Medical Cannabis Commission are required to develop guidelines on or before December 31, 2020.
In other news, a bill that would allow physician assistants to be certifying providers will also become law without the governor’s signature. The new law goes into effect October 1, 2020.
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.)