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2017 brought some significant changes to Maryland in regards to marijuana laws. After four years of controversy over a previously signed medical marijuana bill, the first dispensary opened on Friday, December 1st. Prior to this, the state saw some changes in the way marijuana offenses can be expunged.

SB 949

On October 1st, SB 949 went into effect. This new law makes it easier for individuals with past marijuana offenses to get their records expunged. Instead of waiting a mandatory ten years before a cannabis-related offense to have a record nullified, an individual need only wait four years. This makes a difference for many, especially those who have difficulty finding a job, traveling, obtaining higher education, or even obtaining financing for a home or vehicle.

By having records expunged sooner rather than later, offenders can reintegrate into society, affording them the ability to live a more normal life and thereby reducing recidivism rates.

The Defeat of HB 1043

In addition to bringing SB 949 into law, Maryland continued to see progress on the marijuana decriminalization front by the defeat of HB 1043, a law that would have created additional penalties for smoking marijuana in public. Smoking in public is already a civil offense and punishable by up to a $500 fine, rendering it unnecessary to further criminalize the smoking of cannabis in public. Although the provision for the re-criminalization of public cannabis smoking was removed before the bill passed the house, it did not make it through the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

The Future of Medical Marijuana in Maryland

Although 2017 brought much progress on the medical cannabis front for the Old Line State, 2018 may have created a “one step forward, two steps back” situation. At the beginning of this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared that the Obama-era guideline for states to place cannabis-related offenses at the lowest enforcement priority would be revoked. This means that states now have the ability to move marijuana offenses up the totem pole so to speak, devoting more law enforcement resources to arresting marijuana offenders, including medical marijuana patients. What will happen next is something cannabis enthusiasts and marijuana growers and dispensary owners are anxiously awaiting.

unnamed e1517153080608Charged with a Cannabis Crime? Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney Today

If you’ve been charged with a marijuana offense, don’t wait to get the help you need from a seasoned defense attorney. Contact Richard J. Brueckner today for a consultation today by calling (410) 430-1464.

Attorney Brueckner is an expert in the field of marijuana law and holds a certificate of completion of the Law Enforcement Training Course awarded by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.