Maryland Gov. Wes Moore does the right thing!

Jun 18, 2024

By Mel Wilson, NASW Senior Policy Advisor

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland on June 17 announced he will pardon more than 175,000 residents who were convicted for possessing marijuana.

Photo of Gov. Wes Moore.

Gov. Wes Moore

This is one of the most expansive efforts ever in our nation to right the wrongs of criminal convictions of Marylanders for the nonviolent offense of simple possession of cannabis. While the order would have had greater impact if it included expungement of arrest and conviction records, Moore must be commended for this important action.

Equally as impressive was Moore’s recent comments that pardoning the 175,000 people  “will also help remove systemic barriers that disproportionately impact Black and brown residents of the state.”

That statement underscores the sentencing disparities and collateral consequences – both economically and socially – that criminalization of marijuana for decades has had on the lives of thousands of Maryland residents in communities of color.

The governor’s executive order demonstrates a real and sincere commitment to directing Maryland drug policy toward public health as an instrument of public safety—as opposed to an over-criminalization mindset.

In that context, it is hoped that the federal government will follow Moore’s signal by fully decriminalizing marijuana within the federal system— instead of its current policy of retaining marijuana on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule as a Schedule III drug. In the meantime, we support and appreciate Governor Moore’s actions.

Additional Resources:

NASW Social Work Talks Podcast on how marijuana law reforms affect Black and brown communities

A Social Work Perspective on Drug Policy Reform


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