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Cannabis expungements expand as recreational marijuana reaches one-year mark

Woman claims she was sent weed instead of toys
Posted at 3:43 PM, Jul 05, 2024

BALTIMORE — With recreational marijuana now legal, people with minor convictions before the laws changed were stuck with tainted criminal records.

"I think a lot of people were feeling like, 'In 1999 I did a year in jail or prison for possessing a small amount of marijuana and now I can go into a store and buy that,'" said Meaghan McDermott, the chief attorney at Maryland Legal Aid.

Cannabis convictions can you hold you back, even convictions for things like simple possession.

"A criminal record can hold somebody back from so many areas of life, housing and employment are the two biggest areas but a trickle down effect of lots of other things," said McDermott.

Maryland's cannabis reform law expanded expungement opportunities.
"Many types of marijuana convictions that are simple possession will be automatically expunged in the state of Maryland," said McDermott.

For other types of convictions, Maryland Legal Aid is there to help.

Hosting expungement clinics throughout the year.

Earlier this summer, Governor Wes Moore pardoned 175,000 convictions, but those people still need to get the conviction off their record.

"There'll be a notation on their record saying that they were pardoned and they can go through the process, if they qualify for legal aid, they can see us at Maryland Legal Aid and we can help them out with their expungement," said McDermott.

Another group that. Needs to be aware of expungement opportunities is those charged with a crime but acquitted.

"A dismissal or an acquittal, that is still on your criminal history and those are really important to get expunged because an employer or a landlord whose not versed in the legal language might not realize that you were not found guilty of that offense but it's still on your criminal record," said McDermott.

Help with cannabis expungements can be found here.