A new bill in the Maryland House of Delegates could mean marijuana legislation and the expungement of convictions.
State residents may get the chance to vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana for adults’ recreational use.
House Bill 837, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Luke Clippinger, a Democrat from Baltimore, was introduced Thursday.
The bill was a companion to House Bill 1, which would allow voters to vote in November whether to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, effective July 1, 2023.
Clippinger said in a Baltimore Sun editorial that public sentiment about marijuana has shifted in the last decade, with more states legalizing recreational use.
Under the new bill, a person with a single conviction for simple possession would have that count automatically expunged from court records.
A person currently in prison or jail on a cannabis charge would also be eligible to be resentenced, with the goal of ending the term behind bars.
The bill would also create a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund, that would “assist those disproportionately impacted by marijuana laws and support business incubators, educational programs at HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) and more,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones, in a statement, according to Maryland Matters.
Jones said the fund would also require a disparity study to “identify barriers to entering the industry.”
Clippinger added, “With this legislation, we will be prepared with comprehensive policy that creates the best, most equitable path to legal recreational cannabis should voters say yes.”