How to Get Your Cannabis Conviction Expunged From Your Record in Maryland

how to expunge cannabis conviction in maryland

Table of contents

  1. What Is Expungement?
  2. Benefits of Getting Your Conviction Expunged
  3. How to Get Your Cannabis Conviction Expunged
  4. Do Any Other States Expunge Cannabis Convictions?
  5. The Bottom Line

As of October 2021, Maryland individuals can get cannabis convictions expunged from their criminal record by petition or automatically after three years.

Maryland lawmakers have talked about varying degrees of equitable and practical measures to make amends for the racist legacy left behind by the war on drugs following cannabis legalization.

Various measures are currently floating in session, and while immediate expunging of cannabis-related penalties is unlikely to make any moves soon, Maryland does have some clemency regulations at play.

Read on to learn more about Maryland’s marijuana laws and everything you need to know about clearing marijuana possession crimes from your record.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is the act of removing court records from public view. Typically, an individual’s criminal record plays a role in the consideration for jobs, loans, and other weighty life matters. To “expunge” or completely erase one’s criminal conviction destroys or seals the conviction from state or federal court records and orders parties to act as though it never occurred.

In Maryland, expungement applies to removing records from motor vehicle files, police records, reports, and court documents. Each expungement process in Maryland handles specific files and must be managed by the appropriate agency. Expungement may also only be petitioned for based on the date of arrest and according to other case specifics.

Benefits of Getting Your Conviction Expunged

A criminal record can create severe barriers to several aspects of an individual’s life. Past crimes can affect access to education, employment, civic engagement, public assistance, and even housing. Many employers, schools, and landlords use background checks to screen applicants. One study found that more than 45,000 laws in the U.S. impose some kind of disqualification on individuals who have a criminal record.

It’s worth it to get your conviction expunged or sealed if you have the ability. A clean record opens up a world of job opportunities and access to essential aspects of a decent quality of life. Moreover, criminal records often reach across generations: Expressing criminal and court records can increase chances for your descendants and improve their long-term wellbeing.

How to Get Your Cannabis Conviction Expunged

Maryland Laws

Maryland law states that any record – including police, court, or other state agency – related to a civil offense for possession of fewer than 10 grams of cannabis is eligible for automatic expungement after three years. However, individuals can petition for expungement before the three years, and those convicted of possessing more than 10 grams may request expungement after four years.

There is a difference in the petition process for expungement depending on the disposition of the case. If acquitted or dismissed, the process is different for individuals who were found guilty of cannabis charges.

All automatic expungements are also subject to the state’s Unit rule, which says that records can only be expunged if all charges from the case are eligible for expungement.

Maryland State House

Process

First, obtain the correct petition documentation, depending on the verdict of your case (guilty or not guilty). You’ll also need the case number, arrest date, court summons date, the involved law enforcement agencies, the charges against you, and the date your case was decided.

Complete the form and file it with the Court clerk where your case was seen. Be sure to include an extra copy for the State’s Attorney’s office and each law enforcement agency involved in the case. If your disposition was guilty, you must pay a nonrefundable filing fee.

You should receive an answer approximately 90 days from filing unless more information is needed or an objection arises. If there is an objection from an involved party, the court will hold a hearing to hear the petition. If no party objects within 30 days of the petition, the court will order agencies to expunge all police and court records related to the charges.

Do Any Other States Expunge Cannabis Convictions?

While 19 states have fully legalized cannabis and many more have legalized some form of medical cannabis, each region has laws governing the expunging or sealing of cannabis convictions.

These states allow for expunging, sealing, or dismissal, with some offering automatic expunging and others requiring the defendant to petition:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington, DC.

Check your state’s specific regulations and requirements when researching expungement processes.

Download Our Guide To Your Cannabis Rights

The Bottom Line

As the U.S. becomes more accepting of cannabis use overall, Maryland’s expungement process opens up a chance to fully participate in society. It represents a first step in healing the damage wrought by cannabis illegalization. While the state has a long way to go in top-down reparations to communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana charges, the opportunity to expunge cannabis-related crimes is one worth taking.

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