Annapolis, MD: House lawmakers have advanced legislation expanding the state’s marijuana decriminalization and expungement policies.
By a vote of 93 to 44, lawmakers approved HB 550, greatly expanding the pool of marijuana offenders eligible for civil, rather than criminal, penalties. Under the measure, offenses involving the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis will be reclassified as a civil violation — punishable by a fine only, no arrest and no criminal record. Under existing law, only possession offenses involving ten grams of marijuana or less are decriminalized. The possession of greater amounts is currently punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The measure now awaits action from the Senate.
Separate legislation, House Bill 83, which prohibits “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” has been approved by both chambers and now awaits action from the Governor. If signed into law, the measure would take effect on January 1, 2021.