Maryland Governor Wes Moore Gives 175,000 Another Chance with Cannabis Pardon

Maryland Governor Wes Moore recently signed an executive order pardoning 175,000 Marylanders with low-level marijuana convictions, marking the first mass pardoning of marijuana-related convictions in U.S. history. The move follows the state’s recent legalization of recreational cannabis in 2023 through a constitutional amendment passed during the 2022 legislative session.

Governor Moore emphasized the need to address the consequences of past criminalization despite the benefits of legalization, stating, “You cannot talk about the benefits of legalization if you do not deal with the consequences of criminalization, where we have people who are still sitting with records because of something that is no longer illegal.” The pardons cover over 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for simple possession of cannabis and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for drug paraphernalia. These pardons account for the number of convictions, and individuals may receive multiple convictions pardoned under the executive order.

The executive order, signed on June 17, particularly impacts Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, and Baltimore County, where over 50% of the convictions occurred. Governor Moore highlighted the impact of these pardons on predominantly Black and communities of color, which have historically faced the brunt of cannabis criminalization.

Furthermore, the Governor addressed the systemic disparities faced by Black Marylanders and emphasized the importance of creating an ownership society to address the racial wealth gap. He stated, “When you have convictions, they impact your ability to go to school and get school loans, your ability to get a job, your ability to buy a home and get mortgages, and your ability to receive startup capital for your small business.” The executive order aims to rectify the consequences of past criminalization and provide impacted individuals with opportunities for a fresh start.

Video of the executive order signing.