Moore to pardon 175,000 marijuana convictions in Maryland

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) will be issuing a mass pardon for more than 175,000 marijuana convictions on Monday.

The pardons will be one of the country’s biggest acts of clemency involving the drug that’s now widely used recreationally.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Moore said it will be a step to heal decades of social and economic injustice that disproportionately harmed people of color.

“I’m ecstatic that we have a real opportunity with what I’m signing to right a lot of historical wrongs,” he said. “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.”

The Post noted that nine other states and multiple cities have pardoned hundreds of thousands of previous marijuana convictions in recent years but Moore’s actions impact communities of color significantly because Maryland has one of the country’s worst records for disproportionately incarcerating Black people.

The Post also noted that the pardons fall on the same week as Juneteenth celebrations across the country, which symbolizes the end of slavery. Moore is the only Black governor of a U.S. state.

The pardons rival only Massachusetts, where Gov. Maura Healey (D) issued a blanket pardon in March that is expected to impact hundreds of thousands of people, the outlet reported.

The pardons will not release anyone from prison because it will affect misdemeanor cannabis charges, which carries short sentences and prosecutions for those charges have stopped since it’s now legal to carry small amounts of marijuana in the state.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown (D) said the pardons are overdue.

“While the pardons will extend to anyone and everyone with a misdemeanor conviction for the possession of marijuana or paraphernalia, this unequivocally, without any doubt or reservation, disproportionately impacts — in a good way — Black and Brown Marylanders,” he said in an interview with the Post.

Maryland is the only state in the D.C. region that has fully legalized cannabis sales.

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