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Maryland’s Governor signs groundbreaking executive order pardoning 175,000 cannabis convictions



image credit Maryland.Gov

Governor Wes Moore has made history by signing an executive order that pardons 175,000 convictions associated with cannabis possession in Maryland. These include charges of misdemeanor possession of cannabis, and cannabis related misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Maryland now stands as the first state in the nation to pardon convictions related to cannabis drug paraphernalia, making it the largest pardon for misdemeanor cannabis charges.


Following the executive order, the Maryland Judiciary will update each individual’s electronic docket to reflect that their conviction has been pardoned by the governor. This should be completed within a span of two weeks. Further, Governor Moore’s executive order instructs the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to establish a procedure for noting on an individual's criminal record that the conviction was pardoned. This process is estimated to take approximately ten months to finalize.


"Maryland made history when we legalized cannabis by referendum. But we cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization while forgetting the consequences of criminalization. No Marylander should face barriers to housing, employment, or education based on convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal," said Gov. Moore on June 17th.


To be eligible for the pardon, the case must include:

  • Convictions for misdemeanor possession of cannabis or misdemeanor use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. 

  • Convictions for misdemeanor use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia were in cases associated with misdemeanor cannabis possession and no other charges were incurred. 

  • The disposition was guilty or probation before judgment. 

  • Charges had to occur prior to January 1, 2023, when possession of personal use amount of cannabis was decriminalized.

 

What is a pardon?

A pardon is different from an expungement. Though the Maryland Judiciary will make a note on the record that the offense has been pardoned, it will still appear on the individual’s record. Expungement is the process by which a criminal conviction is destroyed and removed completely from the public record. If you or someone you know are interested in expungement of cannabis-related convictions, our law firm hosts an expungement clinic, in partnership with the St. Mary’s County Health Hub, on the first Tuesday of every other month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Those interested must register by calling the Health Hub, as walk-ins are not allowed. The next expungement clinic will be on July 9th 


Information for the St. Mary’s County Health Hub: St. Mary's County Health Department Health Hub 21625 Great Mills Road, Lexington Park, MD 20653, 301-904-8949 (Office) 


Learn more about the bimonthly expungement clinics here:

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