Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to pardons 175,000 marijuana convictions

BALTIMORE — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 marijuana convictions Monday in a sweeping executive order. 

The governor will pardon misdemeanor charges for people who were found guilty of possessing small amounts of marijuana. 

Baltimore City makes up about 25% of the convictions being pardoned, the governor’s office said. 

More than 150,000 of the convictions being pardoned are misdemeanors for simple possession of cannabis, and another 18,000 
misdemeanors are for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.

Moore told the Washington Post he’s acting to heal decades of social and economic injustice that disproportionately harmed people of color.

“I’m ecstatic that we have a real opportunity with what I’m signing to right a lot of historical wrongs,” Moore said in an interview with the Post. “If you want to be able to create inclusive economic growth, it means you have to start removing these barriers that continue to disproportionately sit on communities of color.”  

Moore said criminal records have been used to prevent people from attaining employment, housing, and education. 

Adult-use recreational marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2022. The District of Columbia and 24 states have legalized recreational marijuana.

President Biden pardoned thousands of people in 2022 to decriminalize the drug and address racial disparities in the justice system.

Mr. Biden asked local officials to follow suit as several states have legalized the drug.

What is a pardon? 

A pardon is an act of complete forgiveness that absolves an individual from the guilt of a criminal offense, the governor’s office said. Only the governor has the constitutional power to grant pardons.  

The act restores the civil liberties lost as a result of a conviction, but it doesn’t expunge a person’s criminal record. 

The power to expunge is reserved for the judicial branch. Learn more about expungement here.

Expungement laws were adjusted in 2022 to start wiping out marijuana-related convictions if this was the only crime charged on a person’s record.

How to find out if you were pardoned

People do not need to take any action to receive the pardon. To verify whether they were included in the pardon, they can check online or at a public courthouse kiosk

If you were eligible for the pardon but not included in the mass pardon, you can apply for a pardon through the standard process here.

Original CBS News Link</a