Wes Moore pardons 175K marijuana convictions in Maryland

Wes Moore pardons 175K marijuana convictions in Maryland

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) made history Monday with a mass pardoning of more than 175,000 marijuana convictions, a move he said would changes the lives of tens of thousands of Marylanders after the state legalized recreational cannabis last year.

“We know that legalization does not turn back the clock on decades of harm that was caused by the war on drugs,” Moore said during a pardoning ceremony at the State House on Monday.

“Legalization does not erase the fact that nearly half of all drug arrests in Maryland during the early 2000s were for cannabis; it doesn’t erase the fact that Black Marylanders were three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than white Marylanders before legalization; it doesn’t erase the fact that having a conviction on your record means a harder time with everything: everything from housing to employment to education.”

The pardoning, he said, represents a piece of working to address racial injustice in the state, which has led to devastating impacts on families of color.

“We cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization if we do not address the consequences of criminalization,” Moore said. “Undoing decades of harm cannot happen in a day, but we’re going to keep up the work,” Moore said.

Moore shared the story of Shiloh Jordan, a Marylander in the room for the executive action.

Jordan was convicted of a minor cannabis offense after he dropped out of college, Moore said. He was fired from a job on his second day after it was learned he had a drug conviction on his record but has since rebuilt his life. He now works with the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore helping others get back on their feet, the governor said.

“He spends his time now helping other Marylanders find their way,” he said, gesturing to Jordan, who stood beaming nearby. “Shiloh still has a cannabis conviction on his record. Today, that ends.”

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) also touted the impact of the mass pardoning and its racial implications.

“As a nation we have taken far too long to correct the injustices of a system that is supposed to be just for all,” Brown said. “While the order applies to all who meet its criteria, the 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.”

“Plainly put, the enforcement of cannabis laws has not been colorblind. It’s been unequal treatment under the law,” he added.

Maryland’s blanket pardon follows a similar one in Massachusetts in March, together representing two of the most sweeping such moves the nation has seen.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.