Md.: Legislature approves bill to automatically shield possession charges

Mar 17, 2020

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Md.: Legislature approves bill to automatically shield possession charges

Early adjournment leaves decrim fix bill up in the air — take action to keep it alive.

Good news! Both chambers of the General Assembly have 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 for final approval.

If enacted, HB 83 would shield nearly 200,000 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.

Del. David Moon’s initial version of HB 83 included automatic expungement. However, it was amended in committee due to the complexity and costs involved. Our plan is to push for the stronger bill as part of legalization next year.

In light of the coronavirus, the General Assembly will adjourn its session tomorrow and will hold a special session the last week of May.

The decision leaves the fate of another important cannabis reform bill — HB 550 —uncertain. The bill would increase the amount of cannabis decriminalized in Maryland from 10 grams to one ounce, which would save thousands of Marylanders from arrests and criminal charges for simple possession.

Please take a minute to urge your senator to take up HB 550 before the legislature adjourns. Then, forward this message to other Marylanders and encourage them to do the same.