Maryland voters have approved the recreational use and possession of cannabis under certain circumstances. Beginning July 2023, weed is legalized for those 21 and older and possession is allowed if 1.5 ounces or less. Medical marijuana has been legal in the Old Line state since 2013.
Public smoking of cannabis is not allowed. In addition, individuals are allowed to grow a few plants as long as the greenery is kept out of public view.
The new law also makes it easier for people charged or convicted of simple possession to clear their records through expungement and pardons.
Expungement is the process of asking the court to remove certain court and police records from public view. A criminal conviction or record of charges can create difficulties when applying for a job or an apartment because employers and landlords often ask about a person’s criminal record.
In many instances, the severity and the age of the criminal conviction doesn’t matter. Online retail giant Amazon was sued by a group of drivers who said they were fired when a background check showed criminal charges that were minor and more than 10 years old.
Under the new law, in cases where simple possession of marijuana is the only charge, the state will automatically expunge those records from its criminal records database. The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has until July 1, 2024, to clear those cases, and the Maryland Judiciary must clear the state’s court case search of any criminal case where possession of cannabis is the only charge, according to the new law.
The new law also eliminates the longstanding “unit rule” when simple possession is the charge or conviction. Under the unit rule, in order for any one charge in a case to be expunged, all charges in a case must qualify for expungement. The new law allows defendants to selectively expunge a simple possession charge from a case involving multiple charges.
The new law also reduces the wait time to three years before one can apply to expunge a possession with intent to distribute charge.
An Ocean City expungement lawyer can provide more details.
Simple possession will be pardoned where it is the only charge. Those currently in jail on simple possession charges will be able to petition the court for resentencing and release.
Evolution of Maryland’s laws on cannabis
Maryland’s laws on weed have changed over the past many years, moving the offense from a criminal to a civil violation. Possession of 10 grams or less was decriminalized in 2014 and that is the law until July 2023.
Expunged information might show up on private, federal databases
There are instances, however, where expunged information might show up in a background check. If a private database has information about your public record, expungement will not remove the information from that database.
In addition, state expungement means that no publicly available information will show up on a state website such as Maryland Judiciary Case Search. However, Maryland does not have authority over federal governmental organizations such as the FBI. A case that is expunged by Maryland officials will probably appear on an FBI record and could appear on a background check that uses federal records as part of its search.
Maronick Law LLC is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh civil and criminal record expungement needs. An Ocean City expungement lawyer can help you to get your record cleared. The consultation is free.