Maryland governor plans mass pardon on marijuana convictions

By Thomson Reuters Jun 16, 2024 | 8:00 PM

(Reuters) – The governor of Maryland told the Washington Post in an interview published on Sunday that he will issue a mass pardon of 175,000 low-level marijuana convictions.

Governor Wes Moore told the Post that he would make the mass pardon on Monday morning. He said that the timing was meant to coincide with this week’s Juneteenth holiday, a day that marks the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans.

Moore’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Black Americans have historically been more than three times as likely as white Americans to be arrested on marijuana charges, according to research from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Moore told the Post that such criminal records have been used to deny housing, employment and education, holding people and their families back long after their sentences have been served.

“I’m ecstatic that we have a real opportunity with what I’m signing to right a lot of historical wrongs,” Moore told the Post.

The move by Moore comes on the heels of a similar mass pardon in Massachusetts, and after President Joe Biden issued some pardons in recent years on federal drug convictions. In April, Biden’s administration took steps to make marijuana use a less serious crime at the federal level.

While marijuana use and possession remains illegal under federal law, 24 states – including Maryland and Washington D.C. – have legalized the recreational use of marijuana under state law, while 38 states and Washington D.C. allow medical use of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; editing by Diane Craft)