Maryland Governor Wes Moore Issues Pardons for More Than 175,000 Marijuana Convictions

Maryland Governor Wes Moore Issues Pardons for More Than 175,000 Marijuana Convictions

CNN) — Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland, pardoned over 175,000 people who had been convicted of marijuana charges on Monday. This large-scale act of mercy is indicative of the quickly shifting public opinion toward marijuana, which more and more Americans are calling for to be legalized.

An estimated 100,000 people will have their low-level marijuana possession and certain paraphernalia convictions dismissed thanks to the pardons granted by Democratic Governor Wes Moore. The governor's office noted that an individual may have more than one conviction dismissed.

The revelation was initially reported by The Washington Post.

Nearly two years after Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and older, Moore stated at a signing event on Monday, "This is about changing how both government and society view those who have been walled off from opportunity because of broken and uneven policies."

"The most comprehensive state-level pardon" in the history of the nation, according to the governor, was his executive order. This week's gathering took place on Juneteenth, the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the United States, in recognition of the disproportionate impact the problem has on Black and Brown people, according to The Washington Post.

According to the governor's office, the decree on Monday will lead to the pardoning of over 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for mere possession of cannabis and over 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for use or possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use. Baltimore is the source of around 25% of such convictions.

The governor's office stated that the pardons, which also cover those who have passed away, will not release anybody from prison and that Monday's decision was distinct from expungement.

The state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services must come up with a method to note the pardon on a person's criminal record, according to the directive issued on Monday. However, one must still file a court petition if one want to have their conviction expunged from the public record.

Maryland voters authorized adult use of cannabis recreationally despite a significant shift in the public's perception of the drug: A record 70% of Americans questioned by Gallup in November 2023 expressed support for the legalization of cannabis. The percentage was 51% in 2014.

The convictions that were pardoned on Monday meant "a harder time with everything - everything from housing to employment to education," Moore said, adding that "we cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization if we do not address the consequences of criminalization."

At the event on Monday, Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown stated that drug-related arrests and sentencing were rife with "deeply rooted bias," which he characterized as a relic from slavery.

"Cannabis convictions were scarlet letters, modern-day shackles, for hundreds of thousands of people here in Maryland," the speaker stated. "Governor, I can practically hear those shackles dropping to the ground with your pardon this morning."

Moore's pardons According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, marijuana has been legalized for adult recreational use in 24 states, two territories, and Washington, DC. Monday's results are only the most recent example of the fading prohibitions around the drug. Products made from cannabis are legal for medicinal use in 38 states.

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