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    Maryland governor pardons more than 175,000 marijuana convictions

    By Maddie Biertempfel,

    27 days ago

    WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The governor of Maryland issued a mass pardon for marijuana convictions Monday.

    This executive order is expected to impact about 100,000 people.

    Governor Wes Moore’s administration says it’s the largest state pardon in history, affecting more than 175,000 marijuana convictions.

    “This is a big deal,” Moore said.

    The executive order applies to misdemeanors for possessing marijuana or paraphernalia.

    Moore says it’s a step toward addressing racial inequality.

    “Black Marylanders were three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than white Marylanders before legalization,” said Moore.

    Maryland legalized marijuana last year.

    Moore says no one should be held back from housing or employment opportunities because of an old conviction.

    “We cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization if we do not address the consequences of criminalization,” said Moore.

    The order won’t release anyone from jail or expunge the charges, but a person’s criminal record will soon show it’s been pardoned.

    Paul Larkin with the Heritage Foundation says when a state decriminalizes conduct, “It is entirely legitimate, reasonable and laudable for the governor to pardon people who previously had been convicted of that conduct.”

    However, Larkin said this mass pardoning could be too broad, as it is unlikely everyone was a victim of discrimination. It also includes people who once committed felonies but pleaded down to a misdemeanor.

    “The public needs to be aware that this has broader effect than just the category of misdemeanors,” said Larkin.

    Maryland’s move comes after the Justice Department announced it’s planning to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III, which acknowledges it has a lower risk for abuse.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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