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MDGA 2023 Legislative Update – Watch the recent hearings & listen to our latest podcast (2/3/2023)

There has been a lot of activity this week in Annapolis. There were hearings for our bills – SB73 and SB 51.  Several community organizations and advocates came to Annapolis to support the both pieces of legislation.

We also streamed this year’s first episode of our podcast “From The Streets to the Statehouse”. Listen to our Director of Public Policy – Dayvon Love – break down the issues we’re fighting for this session. 

SB 51

SB 51: Removing the sole use of the odor of cannabis as the basis for stops and searches by law enforcement

The use of odor searches and cannabis prohibition policies more generally have been used as a tool for law enforcement to justify stops and searches. Black people are overwhelmingly represented among those who are stopped and searched on the basis of the odor of cannabis.

This allows for Black people to have more contact with law enforcement, which has often led to Black people experiencing police violence and mistreatment. 

This bill says that law enforcement can not use odor searches as the sole basis for a search.

Hearing Video

Hearing Information:

2/2/2023 in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR)

Bill Sponsor:

Senator Jill Carter

District 41
Baltimore City
Democrat
(410) 841-3697
jill.carter@senate.state.md.us

Speakers

Support:

  • Yanet Amanuel – ACLU of MD
  • Debra Ramsey – Former Baltimore City police detective
  • Malcolm Ruff – Murphy Firm
  • Michelle Hall – Office of the Public Defender
  • Roberto Martinez – Office of the Public Defender, District Court Montgomery County
  • Charlotte Ahearn – Maryland Legal Aid
  • Councilman Martin Mitchell – Laurel City Council
  • Heather Warnken – Center for Criminal Justice Reform
  • Karen Kaplan – Jews United For Justice
  • Joanna Silver – Silver Spring Justice Coalition
  • Rusty Carr – District 4 constituent
  • Sita Abdul-Malik – Maryland NORML
  • McKayla Wilkes
  • Rondez Green – Student, Bowie State University
  • Nikki Tyree – League of Women Voters

Opposition

  • Scott Shellenberger – Baltimore County State’s Attorney 
  • David Daggett – Maryland State’s Attorney Association 
  • Mike Lewis – Sheriff of Wicomico County (representing Maryland Sheriff’s Association and Maryland Chefs of Police Association)
  • Steven Kroll – Maryland State’s Attorney Association

SB 73

SB 73: Removing criminal penalties for the possession of cannabis and possession with the intent to distribute.

With the voters of Maryland voting to legalize recreational cannabis in the November 2022 General Election, people should not have to worry about being incarcerated for cannabis related offenses. But existing criminal penalties for possession above the 2.5oz civil possession amount and for possession with intent to distribute still present Marylanders with the possibility of being exposed to the criminal justice system as a result of cannabis. Given the history of law enforcement disproportionately charging Black people with these offenses, leaving these criminal penalties intact will only extend Black people’s exposure to incarceration.

This bill removes criminal penalties for possession of cannabis, above the civil limit, and removes criminal penalties for possession with intent to distribute.

Hearing Video

Hearing Information:

2/1/2023 in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR)

Bill Sponsor:

Senator Jill Carter

District 41
Baltimore City
Democrat
(410) 841-3697
jill.carter@senate.state.md.us

Speakers

Support

  • Yanet Amanuel – ACLU of MD
  • Dayvon Love – Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
  • Debra Ramsey – Former Baltimore City police detective

Opposition

None

Listen to "From The Streets to the Statehouse"

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