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Moore to pardon 175,000 marijuana convictions in Maryland

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (Democrat) plans to issue a mass pardon on Monday for more than 175,000 people with marijuana-related convictions.

The amnesty would be the nation’s largest amnesty for a drug currently in widespread recreational use.

in Washington Post interview, Moore said this would be a step toward healing decades of social and economic injustice that has disproportionately harmed people of color.

“I’m thrilled that the bill I’m signing provides us with a real chance to right many historic wrongs,” he said. “If we want to achieve inclusive economic growth, we must begin to remove these barriers that continue to disproportionately fall on communities of color.”

The Post noted that while nine other states and several cities have pardoned hundreds of thousands of people with marijuana-related convictions in recent years, Moore’s actions will have a disproportionate impact on communities of color because Maryland has one of the worst records in the country for disproportionately incarcerating black people.

The paper also noted that the pardon comes in the same week as the nationwide celebration of Juneteenth (June 19), which marks the end of slavery. Moore is the only black governor of a U.S. state.

The pardon would be comparable in scale to one issued in Massachusetts, where Democratic Governor Maura Healey issued a blanket pardon in March that is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of people, the outlet reported.

No one will be released from prison as a result of this pardon because it affects misdemeanor marijuana offenses, which carry shorter sentences and have been suspended since possession of small amounts of marijuana was legalized in the state.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown, a Democrat, said the pardon came long overdue.

“The amnesty applies to anyone with a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana or related paraphernalia, which will undoubtedly, without question or reservation, disproportionately impact Black and brown Marylanders in a good way,” he said in an interview with The Post.

Maryland is the only state to fully legalize marijuana sales in the Washington, D.C. area.

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