By / June 19, 2024

Maryland Governor Cancels Over 175,000 Cannabis-Related Convictions

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has pardoned more than 175,000 individuals convicted of minor offenses related to cannabis and its paraphernalia. This sweeping act of clemency, the largest of its kind in the United States, comes nearly a year after Maryland implemented cannabis legalization.

For more news like this, along with all the latest in legalization, research, and lifestyle, download our free cannabis news app.

Addressing the Consequences of Criminalization in Maryland

Governor Moore announced the Maryland pardons last Monday, emphasizing the need to address the long-term consequences of criminalization, even as the state moves forward with cannabis legalization.

“Legalization alone cannot undo the decades of harm caused by this war on drugs,” he stated at a press conference in Maryland. He explained that while Maryland now prides itself on having one of the most equitable legal cannabis markets in the country, it is crucial to also pardon past behaviors related to cannabis offenses.

The pardons cover approximately 100,000 convictions for minor cannabis offenses and 75,000 cases for cannabis-related paraphernalia (such as possession of bongs, grinders, etc.). In some instances, the pardon is granted posthumously.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown praised the governor’s action as “long overdue,” highlighting the racial injustices perpetuated by previous cannabis laws.

“While the decree applies to everyone meeting its criteria, its impact is a triumphant victory for African Americans and other people of color in Maryland who have been disproportionately arrested, convicted, and sentenced,” Brown stated.

Eligibility and Implementation in Maryland

The eligibility criteria for the pardons are as follows:

  • Convictions for the misdemeanor possession of cannabis
  • Convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia associated with the possession of cannabis, without any other charges
  • Convictions related to guilt or probation before judgment
  • Charges that occurred before January 1, 2023, when personal-use quantities of cannabis were decriminalized

Maryland courts are expected to update electronic records within two weeks to reflect the pardoned convictions. The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has been tasked with establishing a procedure to indicate on criminal records that a conviction has been pardoned, which should take about ten months.

Sarah Gersten, executive director of the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), hailed the Maryland governor’s action as a crucial step towards rectifying past injustices related to cannabis policy. The LPP has been instrumental in advocating for cannabis justice across the country. “The LPP is proud to participate in today’s historic announcement, which is a critical step towards beginning to right the wrongs of our failed cannabis policy,” Gersten said.

Governor Moore signed the decree using the LPP’s “pen to right history,” symbolizing the significant impact of legislative and executive actions in combating unjust imprisonment for cannabis-related offenses.

National Context and Comparisons to Maryland

This unprecedented action in Maryland echoes similar measures at the federal level and in other states. President Joe Biden has also granted massive pardons for federal cannabis possession offenses. Additionally, states like Massachusetts have taken clemency measures, though Maryland stands out by including convictions for paraphernalia use.

In April, Maryland authorities announced the winners of a unique cannabis license lottery aimed at social equity applicants, approving 174 growers, processors, and dispensaries. This initiative reflects Maryland’s commitment to creating an equitable and inclusive cannabis market.

Impact and Future Reforms

While the pardons will not result in the release of currently incarcerated individuals in Maryland, they represent a significant step towards fair justice for those affected by previous cannabis laws. Governor Moore’s action is expected to inspire further reforms and clemency efforts nationwide, promoting a more just approach to cannabis-related offenses.

(Featured image by Matthew Bornhorst via Unsplash)

DISCLAIMER: This article was written by a third-party contributor and does not reflect the opinion of, its management, staff, or its associates. Please review our disclaimer for more information.

This article may include forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “estimate,” “become,” “plan,” “will,” and similar expressions. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks as well as uncertainties, including those discussed in the following cautionary statements and elsewhere in this article and on this site. Although the company may believe that its expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, the actual results that the company may achieve may differ materially from any forward-looking statements, which reflect the opinions of the management of the company only as of the date hereof. Additionally, please make sure to read these important disclosures.

First published in Newsweed, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

Although we made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translations, some parts may be incorrect. assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions or ambiguities in the translations provided on this website. Any person or entity relying on translated content does so at their own risk. is not responsible for losses caused by such reliance on the accuracy or reliability of translated information. If you wish to report an error or inaccuracy in the translation, we encourage you to contact us.

Comments are closed for this post.