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Marijuana: US Govt Pardons 175,000 Convicts

Using marijuana may damage your cognitive ability, study says | CNN

THE governor of the US state of Maryland issued a mass pardon of drug offences on Monday, in a far-reaching move forgiving 175,000 low-level marijuana convictions across multiple decades.

Democrat Wes Moore said his act — “the most sweeping state-level pardon” in American history—was aimed at addressing social and economic injustices disproportionately impacting tens of thousands of black people.

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Moore, the eastern state’s first black governor, said he intended to right the “decades of harm” wrought by drug policy that had disproportionately targeted African Americans, depriving them of access to housing, education and employment.

Nearly half of all state drug arrests during the early 2000s were for cannabis, he said, with black Marylanders three times more likely to be detained over cannabis-related charges than white residents.

And while the state’s population of six million is 33 percent black, more than 70 percent of Maryland’s male incarcerated population is black.

“Today, we take a big step by enacting the kinds of policies that can reverse the harm of the past and help us work together to build a brighter future,” Moore said as he signed the pardons into law in a ceremony in the capital, Annapolis.

“This is a big deal. This is a really big deal.”

He said the scope of the pardons—affecting some 100,000 people—amounted to a “sweeping and unapologetic” executive action by officials looking to erase criminal justice inequities as more states nationwide ease marijuana laws.

After a statewide referendum, Maryland legalized cannabis for adults and retail sales of the drug in 2023.

The governor said the pardons would extend to anyone with a misdemeanour conviction for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia.

‘Modern day shackles’

“The data shows the deeply rooted bias in drug-related arrests and sentencing. Cannabis convictions for hundreds of thousands of people here in Maryland were Scarlet Letters, modern day shackles,” added Maryland’s Attorney General Anthony Brown.

“This morning, I can almost hear the clanging of those shackles falling to the floor.”

The pardons will not result in anyone being released from jail, the governor’s office said.

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