In historic move, Wes Moore issues pardons for over 175K misdemeanor cannabis convictions

Gov. Wes Moore provides updates at a media conference on March 27 at MDTA headquarters. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

BALTIMORE — Gov. Wes Moore issued more than 175,000 pardons for misdemeanor cannabis possession and use convictions Monday morning — one of the largest state-issued pardons in United States history.

“We’ll be clear: This is just a step — this is not a conclusion,” Moore, a Democrat, said in a interview Monday morning. “You have to be able to right these wrongs in order for the right steps to be made.”


The pardons apply to over 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for cannabis possession and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. Moore called this “the largest such action in our nation’s history.”

Marylanders voted on an overwhelming margin to approve recreational use cannabis for adults during the 2022 general election. Cannabis officially became legalized in the state on July 1, 2023.

Monday’s pardons will not result in the release of any currently incarcerated person from prison. The cases receiving pardons for misdemeanor use or intent to use drug paraphernalia were not tied in with convictions on other charges.

Officials from the Moore administration were unclear Monday morning exactly how many people will be affected, because some individuals will be pardoned for multiple convictions.

People with these convictions can see if they received a pardon by visiting the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, which will reflect those pardons in about two weeks. Those who are eligible but did not receive pardons can apply for them through the regular application process, which can be found on the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services website.

At least a quarter of these pardons will apply to convictions in Baltimore City. Marylanders of color, particularly the Black community, have been disproportionately represented among these convictions.

Moore said Monday’s pardons were “a hard-fought victory,” not just for those who will receive them, “but for the soul of our state.”

“Undoing decades of harm cannot happen in a day, but we’re going to keep up the work, we’re going to keep up the pace and were going to do it together. This is about recognizing our collective, shared humanity,” he said. “This is about how changing how both government and society view those who have been walled-off from opportunity because of broken and uneven policies.”

According to the ACLU of Maryland, 71% of the state’s prison population is constituted of Black men — the highest percentage among states across the country and more than twice the national average.

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