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Maryland Governor Pardons Over 100,000 Cannabis Convictions

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Maryland Governor Wes Moore Pardons Over 100,000 Cannabis Convictions

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Maryland Governor Wes Moore pardoned over 100,000 cannabis convictions on Monday.
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Annapolis, MD – June 17, 2024

In a historic move aimed at rectifying past injustices and transforming the state’s criminal justice landscape, Maryland Governor Wes Moore announced today the pardon of over 100,000 individuals with prior cannabis-related convictions. The sweeping action marks one of the most significant efforts in the United States to address the long-lasting impacts of the war on drugs.

Speaking at a press conference outside the Maryland State House, Governor Moore emphasized the importance of this decision for both social justice and public safety. “Today, we take a monumental step towards healing our communities and correcting the wrongs of a misguided era of cannabis prohibition,” Moore declared. “This pardon is not just about clearing records; it’s about giving people back their futures and acknowledging the disproportionate harm that cannabis criminalization has inflicted, particularly on communities of color.”

The mass pardon includes individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis offenses, many of whom have faced barriers to employment, housing, and education due to their criminal records. Governor Moore’s decision follows extensive advocacy from civil rights groups, lawmakers, and public health experts who have long argued that the enforcement of cannabis laws has been racially biased and counterproductive.

Maryland’s move aligns with a broader national trend towards cannabis legalization and criminal justice reform. The state legalized recreational cannabis use in July 2023, joining a growing number of states that have moved to regulate and tax the substance. However, the Governor stressed that legalizing cannabis alone was not enough to address the deep-seated inequities perpetuated by its prohibition.

“Legalization is a step forward, but true justice requires us to look back and make amends,” Moore said. “By pardoning these convictions, we are acknowledging the mistakes of the past and ensuring that those affected are not left behind as we move forward.”

Reaction to the announcement has been overwhelmingly positive, with advocacy groups and affected individuals expressing relief and gratitude. “This pardon changes lives,” said Lisa James, director of the Maryland Justice Coalition. “For too long, these convictions have held people back, reinforcing cycles of poverty and disenfranchisement. Today, we begin to break those chains.”

Critics, however, have raised concerns about the implications of such a large-scale pardon on public safety and the administrative challenges of implementing the decision. Some law enforcement officials have called for careful monitoring to ensure that the pardons do not lead to unintended consequences.

Despite these concerns, today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in Maryland’s journey towards a more equitable and just society. Governor Moore concluded his remarks with a call to action, urging other states to follow Maryland’s example. “This is a moment of moral clarity for our nation. Let us seize it, and let us build a future where justice and compassion prevail.”

As Maryland embarks on this new chapter, the state sets a powerful precedent for comprehensive cannabis reform and the potential for healing long-standing societal wounds.

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