Maryland Gov. Wes Moore pardoning 175,000 marijuana convictions

Moore signed an executive order on Monday.

June 17, 2024, 11:40 AM

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is pardoning more than 175,000 convictions for marijuana, his office announced Monday.

"I am humbled to be with you in the historic Maryland State House -- as we make history of our own, together," he announced in a post on X. "This morning – with deep pride and soberness – I will pardon over 175,000 convictions related to the possession of cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia."

In a speech Monday where he signed the executive order, Moore described it as "the most sweeping state-level pardon in any state in American history."

Even so, Moore emphasized that the mass pardons won't "turn back the clock on decades of harm that was caused by this war on drugs" -- particularly for the Black community, which has disproportionately borne the brunt of incarcerations.

"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," he said. "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. It doesn't erase the fact that people who were arrested for cannabis three or four or 40 years ago still have those convictions on their records to this day."

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore at Kentland Community Center on June 7, 2024, in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks at a campaign event for Maryland Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on Gun Violence Awareness Day at Kentland Community Center on June 7, 2024, in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

"We cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization if we do not address the consequences. of criminalization," he added.

Maryland made cannabis legal for recreational use for adults on July 1, 2023.

The news of the pardons comes just a month after the Biden administration said it was officially moving forward with a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III.

The Justice Department submitted the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Office of the Federal Register last month, and if approved, the rescheduling would limit the punishment for those who are in possession of marijuana when it comes to a federal crime.

The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period. After that, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration can assign an administrative law judge to consider the evidence and make a final scheduling recommendation

ABC News reported in April that the Drug Enforcement Administration was planning to reschedule marijuana.

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