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Maryland (U.S.) governor pardons 175,000 cannabis convictions

Wes Moore, governor of the US eastern seaboard state of Maryland, signed an executive order Monday pardoning 175,000 convictions related to possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia, becoming one of the first US states to issue a mass pardon on cannabis. The order is set to include more than 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for use of drug paraphernalia.

Maryland voted to legalize marijuana for adult use in November 2022. In response, Maryland legislature passed the Cannabis Reform Act in spring of 2023, which took effect May 3, 2023. The act ultimately created a framework for cannabis use in Maryland by renaming the Alcohol and Tobacco commision, establishing a regulatory and licensing system for cannabis use, and imposing a sales tax on cannabis. In March, Maryland Cannabis Administration held a lottery for 174 social equity businesses across growing, processing, and dispensary categories, becoming the first of its kind in the nation.

In his press conference Monday, Governor Moore said the this legalization made a big impact, but “[w]e cannot address the benefits of legalization if we do not address the consequences of criminalization.” He stated that in the past, “[p]olicies have been intentionally deployed to hold back entire communities,” which is why he claims his pardon is very intentional.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott addressed the issue and spoke of the impact this order will have in a press statement:

The legacy that the war on drugs has had on our city of Baltimore – and many places around the country like it – is still visceral and tangible. We still see and feel the wounds every day in the lives, families, and communities that were disrupted and destroyed. Today’s action to pardon these more than 175,000 convictions is a step towards healing. For those receiving the pardons – which includes thousands upon thousands of Baltimoreans – it will be life changing.

Article: Maryland governor pardons 175,000 cannabis convictions

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