Justice Advocates Call For More Relief After Maryland Governor Pardons Thousands

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Restorative justice advocates in Maryland are calling on Democratic Governor Wes Moore to take additional steps to provide relief to those with marijuana-related convictions, only days after the governor announced he was pardoning thousands. Moore signed an executive order on Monday that issued a mass pardon for approximately 175,000 weed-related convictions, a move that affected the records of about 100,000 individuals.

“Maryland made history when we legalized cannabis by referendum. But we cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization while forgetting the consequences of criminalization. No Marylander should face barriers to housing, employment, or education based on convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal,” Moore said when he announced the pardons on Monday. “Today, we take a big step forward toward ensuring equal justice for all. But this won’t be our last effort. We must continue to move in partnership to build a state and society that is more equitable, more just, and leaves no one behind.”

With the governor’s action this week, Maryland joins a growing number of states that have issued thousands of pardons to absolve convictions for cannabis-related offenses, particularly as laws prohibiting marijuana are relaxed across the country. A similar move was made at the federal level, with President Joseph Biden becoming the first president to issue a mass pardon for marijuana crimes in October 2022. The president expanded his order in December 2023 with a pardon that covered thousands more federal marijuana convictions.

According to Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), approximately 2 million people have had a cannabis-related conviction pardoned or expunged in recent years, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Supporters of the mass pardons note that a criminal conviction, even for a minor offense, can have long-lasting repercussions. In an interview with NPR, Moore acknowledged the …

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Author: A.J. Herrington / High Times

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