Maryland: Governor Vetoes Bill Shielding Marijuana-Related Convictions from Public View

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has vetoed legislation, House Bill 83, which sought to prohibit “the Maryland Judiciary Case Search from in any way referring to the existence of a certain case in which possession of marijuana is the only charge in the case and the charge was disposed.” The database provides public access to the case records of the Maryland Judiciary.

The legislation, if enacted, would have shielded an estimated 200,000 low-level marijuana convictions from public view.

In a prepared statement, the Governor acknowledged that he was vetoing HB 83, along with several other criminal justice reform measures, because House lawmakers failed to pass a separate bill, the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2020.

“While the Senate approved the package by a wide margin, the House failed to act upon it [the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2020],” Gov. Hogan wrote in his veto message. Therefore, … I have vetoed … House Bill 83.”

As initially drafted and passed by the House, HB 83 sought to review and automatically expunge past, low-level marijuana convictions. State law currently allows those previously convicted of a marijuana possession offense to petition the courts to have their criminal record expunged.

Maryland lawmakers adjourned the 2020 legislative session nearly three weeks early as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.