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Maryland's first black governor cites 'social equity' in plan to pardon 175,000 marijuana convictions

“Social equity” was cited as the catalyst for tens of thousands of drug-related pardons, as the “disparity of mass incarceration” remained a focus for “the first blacks to hold office in ” Maryland.

On Monday, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) followed President Joe Biden's lead in tempering the war on drugs less than two years after his state legalized the recreational use of marijuana. With his racial identity and that of his administration, the governor signed an executive order pardoning more than 175,000 convictions.

“I am honored to stand with you in the historic Maryland State House as we make history together. This morning, with deep pride and soberness, I will pardon more than 175,000 convictions related to possession of cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia,” Moore stated to X with a link to the event stream.

Ahead of the signing, the governor's office, mimicking the White House's constant reference to Vice President Kamala Harris and the Biden-Harris administration appointing Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, released a statement that read: “The Moore administration -Miller is committed to promoting social equity and ensuring the fair and equitable administration of justice.Since the use and possession of cannabis is no longer illegal in the state, Marylanders should not continue facing barriers to housing, employment, or educational opportunities based on convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal.”

While the Washington Post indicated that the pardons would not result in an end to any incarceration, arguing that there were no active incarcerations to be suspended, the paper did note that Moore, along with Attorney General Anthony G. Brown (D) and U.S. Rep. public Natasha Dartigue, were “all the first blacks to hold their positions in the state”.

“I'm delighted to have a real opportunity with what I'm signing to right a lot of historical wrongs,” the executive told 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 in communities of color.”

In May, a blanket followed a blanket sorry of Biden, which had cleared cases of “simple possession and use of marijuana under federal and DC law,” in December before Attorney General Merrick Garland presented a proposal to the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule the marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III, easing federal restrictions. .

The Post quoted Brown as saying of Moore's pardons: “While pardons will be extended to anyone and everyone with a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia, this unequivocally, without any doubt or reservation, it disproportionately affects, in a good way, black and brown Marylanders.”

“We are being arrested and sentenced at higher rates for possession and use of marijuana when the rate at which we used it was no different than any other category of people,” he added.

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Maryland's first black governor cites 'social equity' in plan to pardon 175,000 marijuana convictions
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