175,000 pardons expected to be granted for marijuana convictions in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland Governor. Wes Moore is expected to sign an executive order Monday to grant more than 175,000 pardons for marijuana-related convictions, the governor’s office said.

The administration describes the pardons as the largest state pardon ever. The governor’s action on cases involving paraphernalia makes Maryland the first state to take such action, his office said.

The pardons will clear low-level marijuana possession charges for about 100,000 people, according to the Washington Post, which first reported on the order Sunday evening.

Moore plans to sign the executive order Monday morning at the state Capitol in Annapolis with Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown in attendance.

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Maryland in 2023 after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2022 with 67% of the votes. Maryland decriminalized possession of quantities of cannabis for personal use in January. January 1, 2023. Now, 24 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis.

“The Moore-Miller Administration is committed to promoting social equity and ensuring the fair and equitable administration of justice,” the governor’s office said. “Because cannabis use and possession are no longer illegal in the state, Marylanders should no longer continue to face barriers to housing, employment, or educational opportunities based on convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal.”

Brown, a Democrat, described the pardons as “certainly long overdue as a nation” and “a matter of racial equity.”

“While pardons extend to anyone with a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia, this unequivocally, without doubt or reservation, disproportionately impacts – in a good way – black and brown Marylanders.” , Brown told the Post.

More than 150,000 convictions for simple possession of cannabis will be affected by the order, which will also cover more than 18,000 convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, according to a summary from the governor’s office.

Pardons reflect the number of convictions. Some people may have obtained more than one conviction through this process.

Pardons will not allow anyone to get out of prison.

Once Moore signs the pardon, the Maryland Judiciary will ensure that each individual electronic record is updated with an entry indicating that the conviction was pardoned by the governor, a process that is expected to take about two weeks, a indicated the governor’s office.

The governor’s order also directs the state Department of Corrections to develop a process for indicating a pardon on an individual’s criminal record, a process that is expected to take approximately 10 months.

Pardons absolve people of the guilt of a criminal offense, and individuals do not need to take any action to obtain forgiveness.

A pardon is different from expungement. Even if the judiciary notes in the record that the offense was pardoned, this will nevertheless appear in the record. Expungement is the process by which a criminal conviction is destroyed and completely removed from the public record, requiring an additional step.

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