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Gov. Moore pardons 175,000 cannabis convictions in historic executive order

Posted: 12:25 PM, Jun 17, 2024
Updated: 2024-06-17 18:48:32-04
Gov. Moore cannabis presser Paul Jaffey.jpg
Maryland Governor pardons marijuana convictions

In a historic move Monday, the Maryland Governor pardoned 175,000 cannabis-related convictions.

"We know that legalization does not turn back the clock on the decades of harm that has been caused by this war on drugs... it doesn't erase the fact that having a conviction on your record means having a harder time with everything. Everything from housing to employment to education. It doesn't erase the fact that people who were arrested for cannabis 3 or 4 or forty years ago, still have those convictions on their records to this day," said Gov. Wes Moore in his announcement.

The charges to be pardoned include both simple possession and paraphernalia charges.

This move comes just under a year after recreational cannabis became legal in the state.

Representatives of The Last Prisoner Project and UBalt Law's Center for Criminal Justice Reform also spoke about the historic step toward addressing the past harm of marijuana criminalization.

"Maryland is going to use this moment to right many historical wrongs," says Gov. Moore.

The Governor's office did clarify that while 175,000 convictions will be pardoned, that number refers to the convictions, not the number of people receiving pardons.

State officials estimate that around 100,000 people total will be impacted by this action.

Nearly 23% of the convictions pardoned will be from Baltimore City, despite the fact that the City makes up less than 10% of the state population. The City will see the most pardons of any jurisdiction through Monday's executive order.

However, Baltimore City ranks fourth in per capita pardons.

Worcester County ranks first, with a rate of more than 1 and a half pardons for every 10 residents.

The below map shows the number of pardons per 100,000 residents for each jurisdiction.

The administration also said that these pardons won't release anyone from prison. Members of the Governor's administration, there are currently no Marylanders incarcerated on only a state-level charge of simple misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

According to The Last Prisoner Project, there are 3,000 Marylanders incarcerated on federal cannabis-related charges.

Yanet Amanuel, the Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Maryland applauded the Governor's step today, but added that further action is needed.

“If we want our state to truly legalize marijuana and stop racist enforcement by police, we need to prioritize expunging possession with intent to distribute convictions and eliminate criminal penalties for these offenses. This change matters so that people do not lose access to employment, education, and housing," she said in a statement.

This action will remove the online searchable records for about 40,000 convictions, where the only charge in the case was a state-level misdemeanor simple possession, though the records will be available at the courthouse.

The rest of the records will be available on the online court record database, with the note that the conviction has been pardoned.

The only way for one to get their record fully erased is to file for expungement. More information on how to do that can be found here.