Positive Caribbean and Latin America News: Daily Updates from News Americas

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, New York, NY, June 17, 2024: Caribbean roots, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, has granted over 175,000 pardons for marijuana convictions, marking the most extensive state-level pardon in U.S. history. Moore stated that this decisive action aims to address the past harms caused by the war on drugs.

Caribbean roots, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks at a campaign event for Maryland Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on Gun Violence Awareness Day at Kentland Community Center on June 7, 2024 in Landover, Maryland days before announcing the pardons. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

During a news conference, Moore, whose roots extend to Jamaica, emphasized the sweeping and intentional nature of the executive order, which will affect tens of thousands of Marylanders convicted of misdemeanors, some with multiple convictions being pardoned.

“This is the largest such action in our nation’s history,” Moore, a Democrat, said.

While the pardons will not release anyone from incarceration or automatically expunge past convictions from background checks, advocates praised the move for removing barriers to housing, employment, and educational opportunities caused by convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal.

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Maryland in 2023 after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2022. Moore highlighted that despite legalization, the war on drugs had disproportionately affected Black Marylanders, who were three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than white Marylanders before legalization.

Moore underscored the need to change governmental and societal views on those affected by past policies, emphasizing that legalization alone does not undo the decades of harm caused.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown praised the governor’s action, stating it was “long overdue” and highlighted its significance for racial justice, noting that African Americans and other Marylanders of color were disproportionately impacted by the previous cannabis laws.

The governor’s office reported that the order affects over 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for simple cannabis possession and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. The Maryland Judiciary will update electronic dockets to reflect these pardons within two weeks, and the state corrections department will develop a process to indicate the pardons on individual criminal records, expected to take about ten months.

The pardons absolve individuals from the guilt of a criminal offense without requiring any action on their part. While a pardon differs from an expungement, it represents a significant step in rectifying past injustices and providing affected individuals with a chance for a new beginning.

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