Bills to legalize marijuana for adult use introduced!
Last update: February 20, 2019
Leaders of the General Assembly, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, have created a work group to study how to best implement the legalization of marijuana. The work group will report their findings by December 31 2019 and 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.
Meanwhile, earlier this 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.
Additionally, Del. David Moon has introduced a constitutional amendment bill, HB0632, to legalize marijuana for adults’ use, which would require voter approval in 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 Mosby as she announces non-prosecution policy. Photo credit: image from video posted to Baltimore Sun.
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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