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 June 18, 2024

Maryland Governor Wes Moore Pardons 175,000 For Marijuana Convictions

In an unprecedented move, Maryland Governor Wes Moore has pardoned over 175,000 individuals convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses.

This decision marks a significant pivot in Maryland’s approach to cannabis-related offenses and aims to "rectify" past racial injustices. This is yet another example of Democrats continuing to legislate based on progressive racial ideas.

CBS News reported that the sweeping pardon announced on Monday impacts those convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana and related paraphernalia. The action reflects a broader shift towards decriminalizing marijuana at the state and national levels.

Understanding the Scope of Moore's Pardon

Of the total misdemeanors pardoned, more than 150,000 were for simple possession of cannabis. Additionally, around 18,000 involved drug paraphernalia with the intent to use, highlighting the historical strictness of Maryland’s drug laws.

Baltimore City, where the war on drugs had a profound impact, accounts for approximately 25% of these pardons. This substantial percentage underscores the city's pivotal role in the statewide initiative to mend the injustices of past drug policies.

In 2022, Maryland legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana, joining a growing list of states altering their stance on cannabis. This legislative change laid the groundwork for Governor Moore's pardons by adjusting public perception and legal frameworks surrounding marijuana use.

Additionally, the Justice Department recently proposed reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III drug, further aligning federal policies with the evolving state-level views on cannabis.

Significant Impact on Communities of Color

Officials are currently analyzing the demographic impacts of the pardons, which are expected to predominantly benefit Black Marylanders.

These communities suffered disproportionately under previous drug laws, with nearly half of all state drug arrests in the early 2000s targeting cannabis possession.

Attorney General Anthony Brown emphasized the victory for racial equity, stating, “This impact is a triumphant victory for African Americans and other Marylanders of color who were disproportionately arrested, convicted, and sentenced for actions yesterday that are lawful today.”

Governor Moore expressed the significance of this act, saying, “Today we take a big step in enacting the kinds of policies that can reverse the harm of the past and to help us to work together to build a brighter future.”

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott commented on the lasting scars of the war on drugs in Baltimore, noting, “We still see and feel the wounds every day in the lives, families, and communities that were disrupted and destroyed. Today's action to pardon these more than 175,000 convictions is a step towards healing.”

While a pardon represents a forgiveness of crimes, it does not erase the conviction from one’s record. The power to expunge, which fully removes the criminal record, lies solely with the judiciary. Maryland’s expungement laws were modified in 2022 to facilitate the wiping of some marijuana-related convictions, aligning with the new pardons.

Individuals included in this pardon do not need to take any action to benefit. They can verify their status through an online system or at courthouse kiosks, ensuring that the process is as accessible as possible.

Conclusion

To summarize, Governor Wes Moore's decision to pardon over 175,000 marijuana convictions is a landmark action aimed at correcting alleged racial disparities enforced by previous drug policies in Maryland.

This move, supported by the 2022 legalization of recreational marijuana and recent federal initiatives to reclassify cannabis, sets a precedent for combining justice reform with drug policy modernization.

Written By:
Christina Davie

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