Monday, June 17, 2024

Maryland governor pardons 175,000 marijuana convictions

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore will issue a mass pardon of more than 175,000 marijuana convictions, one of the nation’s most sweeping acts of clemency involving a drug now in widespread recreational use, reported the Washington Post.

The pardons will forgive low-level marijuana possession charges for an estimated 100,000 people in what the Democratic governor said is a step to heal decades of social and economic injustice that disproportionately harms Black and Brown people. Moore noted criminal records have been used to deny housing, employment and education, holding people and their families back long after their sentences have been served.

“I’m ecstatic that we have a real opportunity with what I’m signing to right a lot of historical wrongs,” Moore said in an interview. “If you want to be able to create inclusive economic growth, it means you have to start removing these barriers that continue to disproportionately sit on communities of color.”

Moore called the scope of his pardons “the most far-reaching and aggressive” executive action among officials nationwide who have sought to unwind criminal justice inequities with the growing legalization of marijuana. Nine other states and multiple cities have pardoned hundreds of thousands of old marijuana convictions in recent years, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Legalized marijuana markets reap billions in revenue for state governments each year, and polls show public sentiment on the drug has also turned — with more people both embracing cannabis use and repudiating racial disparities exacerbated by the War on Drugs.

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