Comprehensive legalization bill introduced in 2021 session
Last update: February 17, 2021
The General Assembly convened its 2021 legislative session on Wednesday, January 13. The legislature could seriously consider legalization this year.
A comprehensive legalization bill, HB 32 — The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, Inclusion, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Act of 2021, was pre-filed by Delegate Jazz Lewis. This legislation would legalize personal possession and home cultivation of cannabis for adults, automatically expunge past cannabis offenses, establish a social equity program to ensure inclusion in the industry from disproportionately impacted communities, and reinvest a portion of tax revenue to communities hardest hit by the war on drugs. You can check out our full summary of the legislation here.
Gov. Hogan vetoes bill to shield past cannabis convictions
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.
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.
In other news, a bill that allows physician assistants to be certifying providers also became law without the governor’s signature. The new law went into effect on 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.)