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Governor of Maryland Vetoes Bill To Prevent Public Viewing of Past Pot-Related Offenses

A bill designed to keep marijuana-related convictions out of public view has been vetoed by Maryland’s governor.

The bill, House Bill 83, would have barred “the Maryland Judiciary Case Search from in any way referring to the existence of a District Court criminal case in which possession of marijuana is the only charge in the case and the charge was disposed of before October 1, 2014”—a proposal that, according to NORML, “would have shielded an estimated 200,000 low-level marijuana convictions from public view.” For those unfamiliar, The Judiciary Case Search is a public-access database containing legal and judicial records in the state.

But after arriving on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk, the bill was vetoed, a decision that Hogan explained in a letter to legislative leaders earlier this month. Hogan lamented that the state House had failed to adequately address violent crime by neglecting to act on a series of bills he endorsed at the start of the session. While the state Senate approved those measures, Hogan said, the state House “failed to meaningfully address violent crime.” 

“Last year, 348 people were murdered in the streets of Baltimore City, making 2019 the second deadliest year on record, and the fifth consecutive year with more than 300 murders in our state’s largest city,” Hogan wrote. “Since before the start of the legislative session, I made it very clear that my highest priority was to hold violent criminals accountable and stop the shootings and the murders in Baltimore City.” 

Hogan said at the outset of this year’s session, he expressed a “strong willingness to consider other proposals, including some of those passed by the legislature, if they were included as part of a comprehensive crime package which included my proposals.” But because the state House did not take up his bills, Hogan fired back by vetoing a series of House-passed legislation, including HB 83.

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