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IPFS News Link • Drug War

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore Pardons over 175,000 Marijuana Convictions


Moore, who entered office in 2023 after former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) reached his term limit, announced that approximately 100,000 people would be impacted by the pardons, according to to the Washington Post.

"I'm ecstatic that we have a real opportunity with what I'm signing to right a lot of historical wrongs," he told the publication. "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 on communities of color."

A 2022 report on racial equity by state analysts revealed that while white Marylanders use cannabis at a higher rate than black Marylanders, black residents were more than two times as likely to be charged for possession. 

Maryland residents voted in a referendum to legalize marijuana for adult use in November 2022, which went into effect when Moore signed the bill on May 3, 2023.

Despite Maryland becoming the first state in the Washington, DC, area to fully legalize the sale of marijuana — though D.C. and Virginia have decriminalized it — Marylanders who have been convicted for low-level possession crimes in the past still have that on their records. 

Derek Liggins, 57, who is among those being pardoned, was released from prison over 16 years ago after being convicted of possessing and dealing the drug in the late 1990s. 

Though he's been a free man for well over a decade, his past has still followed him around and hindered job opportunities. While he's held a steady job at a Baltimore HVAC construction company for many years, Liggins is barred from working on the highest-paying contracts with the federal government because of his marijuana crimes.