Senator Brian Feldman of Montgomery County introduced a bill to remove convictions for marijuana use or possession of less than 10 grams from criminal records. On October 1, 2014, marijuana was decriminalized if using or possessing less than 10 grams. This bill is aimed at removing these types of convictions that occurred before the change in the law. Feldman believes, “We shouldn’t have folks, particularly younger folks, prejudiced” Feldman continued, “[I]t just seems incongruent to have on the books prospectively that this is no longer a crime and yet have thousands of young Marylanders hampered with this criminal record.”
One problem with this bill if it were to pass is that prior to this law change, police officers did not record the amount of marijuana found on the person when arrested. Therefore, it would be difficult to determine who would actually be affected by this bill’s passing. Another potential problem would be that necessary background information for firearms checks and employment would disappear. But, the main objective of this bill is to allow people who were convicted of what was once a crime, but is no longer a crime, to find employment, education, scholarships, and housing.
Police officers, on the other hand, oppose the bill because they believe it will make their jobs less safe since less information will be available. Feldman said he would be willing to amend the bill to shield these convictions prior to October 1 instead of completely expunging them. With this amendment, law enforcement officers would still have access to the records, but employers would not.
If the bill were to pass in its original form, individuals who want their records expunged of these low-level marijuana-related convictions would have to pay a fee to the state.
If you or a family member has been charged with a criminal drug act and would like a free legal consultation please contact our office at (301) 854-9000 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Criminal-Defense/