Maryland Governor Pardons Record 175,000 Marijuana Convictions

 June 19, 2024

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has made a historic move that could change thousands of lives.

According to Daily Mail, Governor Wes Moore has pardoned over 175,000 marijuana convictions in Maryland, marking the largest state-level pardon for such offenses in U.S. history.

On Monday, Governor Moore announced the sweeping pardons, which aim to address the long-lasting impacts of the War on Drugs and provide new opportunities for those affected. This unprecedented decision includes over 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for simple possession and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. Some individuals may even see multiple convictions pardoned under this order.

Massive Pardon Includes Thousands Of Convictions

The governor's office indicated that the process of updating electronic dockets will take about two weeks, while the corrections to criminal records may take up to 10 months. Those with marijuana convictions can also apply individually for an expungement of their records. Additionally, people with convictions that predate electronic records are encouraged to apply for pardons individually.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2023 following a voter-approved constitutional amendment. With this move, Maryland joins nine other states that have taken similar actions to pardon marijuana convictions as legalization becomes more widespread. The decision is expected to have significant positive impacts on employment, housing, and educational opportunities for those previously convicted.

Advocates And Officials Praise The Move

Advocates for marijuana reform have hailed the move as a crucial step in removing barriers created by past marijuana convictions. Governor Moore emphasized the intentional and unapologetic nature of this action, highlighting its historic scale. He also noted that the legalization of marijuana does not undo the decades of harm caused by the War on Drugs, which disproportionately affected Black Marylanders.

State Attorney General Anthony Brown echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the racial justice aspect of the pardons. He stated that the order applies to all who meet its criteria but is particularly significant for African Americans and other Marylanders of color who were disproportionately targeted by previous laws. This move is seen as a long-overdue correction to systemic injustices.

It's about racial justice. While this order applies to all who meet its criteria, the impact is a triumphant victory for African Americans and other Marylanders of color who were disproportionately arrested, convicted, and sentenced for actions yesterday that are lawful today.

Broader Context Of Marijuana Legalization

In December, President Biden also took a significant step by pardoning thousands of people convicted of marijuana-related offenses on federal lands and in Washington, D.C. This federal action complements state-level efforts like those in Maryland, reflecting a broader shift in national attitudes toward marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform.

Governor Moore's decision is part of a growing recognition of the need to address the harms caused by outdated drug policies. The impact of these pardons is expected to be profound, providing many with the chance to rebuild their lives without the stigma of a criminal record.

Shiloh Jordan, who attended the signing event, shared his personal experience of losing a job due to a minor cannabis conviction. He praised the move, noting that many people affected by petty cannabis charges have had their lives significantly disrupted.

It means a lot because I know a lot of people that have been convicted for petty cannabis charges, and it really affected their whole way of life and their whole way of thinking.


The process of updating records to reflect the pardons will involve both the state judiciary and the department of corrections. While the judiciary will focus on updating electronic dockets, the corrections department will develop a process to indicate the pardons in each individual's criminal record. This comprehensive approach ensures that the pardons are effectively implemented.

In conclusion, Maryland's historic pardon of over 175,000 marijuana convictions represents a significant step toward rectifying past injustices and providing new opportunities for those affected. This move, coupled with broader national efforts, signals a shift in how marijuana-related offenses are viewed and handled. Governor Moore's decision is a landmark moment in the ongoing efforts to address the consequences of the War on Drugs and promote social equity.

About Aileen Barro

With years of experience at the forefront of political commentary, Robert Cunningham brings a blend of sharp wit and deep insight to his analysis of American principles at the Capitalism Institute.

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