Bill to Remove Cannabis Convictions from Public Record Vetoed in Maryland

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed a bill last week that would have blocked some cannabis convictions from public view.

Full story after the jump.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) last week vetoed a measure that would have shielded some cannabis-related convictions from public view. Specifically, the legislation would have prohibited “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 bill was vetoed along with other criminal justice reforms because the House failed to pass a separate bill, the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2020, Hogan said in his veto message. Hogan indicated that he had expressed “strong willingness to consider other proposals … if they were included as part of a comprehensive crime package” that included his proposals.

“Each of my proposals had the strong support of an overwhelming majority of Marylanders – and support for the proposals was strongest of all in Baltimore City, the community most directly impacted by the violence. While the Senate approved the package by a wide margin, the House failed to act upon it, thus failed to meaningfully address violent crime.” – Hogan in a statement

As originally written, the measure would have forced a review of and automatically expunged low-level cannabis cases but those provisions were scaled back in committee. Under current state law, those convicted of low-level cannabis possession crimes are allowed to petition courts to have the charge expunged.

An estimated 200,000 charges would have been shielded under the bill.

The crime reduction bills approved by the House and Senate but vetoed by Hogan would have created a coordinating council to respond to crime, community programs in 10 high-crime zones throughout the state, required background checks for private sales of long guns and rifles, expanded confidentiality of juvenile records, adding fourth-degree burglary to the list of convictions that could be expunged, and requiring the governor to allocate $3 million annually to the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund, the Baltimore Fishbowl reports.

Maryland lawmakers ended their session early due to the coronavirus pandemic and a special session for this month was also postponed by legislative leaders.

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