Marijuana legalization work group to report findings in time for 2020 session
Last update: May 16, 2019
Early in the 2019 legislative session, leaders of the General Assembly, Senate President Mike Miller and the late House Speaker Michael Busch, created a work group to study how to best implement the legalization of marijuana. The work group is set to begin during the interim this year and will report its findings by December 31, 2019, just before the 2020 legislative session begins.
The work group will review issues such as how the state could license and tax the industry, the public health effects of legalization, impacts on the criminal justice system, and how to promote participation by small, woman-owned and minority-owned businesses.
During the 2019 session, Del. Eric Luedtke (D) and Sen. Will Smith (D) introduced a pair of bills, HB0656 and SB0771, to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older and automatically expunge convictions for possession and cultivation that would become legal under the bill. You can read our full summary of the twin bills here. Del. David Moon also introduced a constitutional amendment bill, HB0632, to legalize marijuana for adults’ use, which would require voter approval in 2020.
Unfortunately, these bills did not get a vote during the 2019 session. However, in light of the work group that has been formed, there is increasing momentum to end prohibition in the Free State.
Medical cannabis program expands to allow edible products
Several bills to improve Maryland’s medical cannabis program were introduced during the 2019 session. Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill that will allow edible cannabis products to be an option for patients. The bill also allows research institutions to study the effects of medical cannabis.
Unfortunately, there were also bills that were not enacted during the 2019 session. These include a bill that would have ensured medical cannabis patients do not lose their gun rights and a bill that would have added opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition to the state’s program.
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 Mosby as she announces non-prosecution policy. Photo credit: image from video posted to Baltimore Sun.
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.)
Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Maryland, be sure to subscribe to MPP's alerts.