ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s House of Delegates advanced a pair of bills Wednesday that would legalize marijuana and expunge past convictions if voters approve a ballot measure in the November election.
The bills, which were introduced by Delegate Luke Clippinger from Baltimore, passed second reader and will be voted on later this week before going on to the senate.
The proposed legislation called HB 1 would ask voters to approve the legalization of marijuana for adults who are at least 21-years-old.
If passed, HB 837 would start the work on the “legal framework” for marijuana use. It would also make it legal for adults to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces and it would end criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces.
The bill would also seek to expunge some marijuana related arrests as well as re-sentence people who are in prison or jail for possession of marijuana.
“The simple possession of marijuana it would impact 300,000 cases in the state of Maryland,” Delegate Clippinger said. “We need to do this, so that we can truly give people another chance.”
Under the legislation, recreational marijuana would be legal for Marylanders at least 21 years old on July 1, 2023
For Baltimore’s Maurice Washington, he knows how a marijuana conviction can impact a person’s life. He said he’s been arrested and jailed for possessing the drug several times. Washington said his first conviction came when he was 18.
“I don’t feel like marijuana should hold you back from going on with your life,” he said.
Washington said the mistakes have affected his life for years.
“It stopped me from getting numerous amounts of jobs,” Washington said.
Luckily for Washington, he changed his life around and founded his own business called All Day Moving and Hauling.
However, he said he knows people who haven’t been as fortunate.
“A lot of friends that I have [are] locked up and incarcerated still because of marijuana,” he said.
He said expunging his convictions would be huge weight lifted off his shoulders and for so many others as well.
“This is like a burden that I’ve been holding for a long time,” he said.