[[{“value”:”READ MORE: Martha’s Vineyard to run out of marijuana 

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has pardoned more than 175,000 marijuana convictions – the largest in the United States – in an effort to give convicts ‘a fresh start.’

The Democrat declared the move the ‘most sweeping state-level pardon in any state,’ and said it will help reverse harms caused by the War on Drugs as he signed the order on Monday.

It will include more than 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for simple possession and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, the governor’s office says.

Some individuals may even have more than one conviction pardoned under the order.

‘We are taking actions that are intentional, that are sweeping and unapologetic, and this is the largest such action in our nation’s history,’ Moore said at a news conference.

Advocates hailed the move as a way to remove barriers to employment, housing or educational opportunities based on conduct that is no longer illegal.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2023 after voters approved a constitutional amendment.

‘This is about changing how both government and society view those who have been walled off from opportunity because of broken and uneven policies,’ Moore said.

He added that the ‘legalization does not turn back the clock on decades of harm that was caused by this War on Drugs.

‘It doesn’t erase the fact that black Marylanders were three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than white Marylanders before legalization. It doesn’t erase the fact that having a conviction on your record means a harder time with everything, everything from housing, to employment, to education.’

Shiloh Jordan, who once lost a job on his second day after a minor cannabis conviction showed up on his background check, praised the move.

‘It means a lot because I know a lot of people that have been convicted for petty cannabis charges, and it really affected their whole way of life and their whole way of thinking.’

State Attorney General Anthony Brown also said it was ‘long overdue.’

‘As a nation, we have taken far too long to correct the injustices of a system that is supposed to be just for all,’ he said.

‘It’s about racial justice,’ Brown continued. ‘While this order applies to all who meet its criteria, the impact is a triumphant victory for African Americans and other Marylanders of color who were disproportionately arrested, convicted and sentenced for actions yesterday that are lawful today.’

He went on to describe the cannabis convictions as ‘scarlet letters’ and ‘modern day shackles.’

‘I can almost hear the clinging of those shackles falling to the floor with your pardon this morning, governor,’ Brown said.

The state judiciary will now work to ensure each individual electronic docket is updated with an entry indicating that the conviction has been pardoned by the governor – a process that the governor’s office said should take about two weeks.

The department of corrections will also work to develop a process that indicates a pardon in each individual’s criminal record, which may take 10 months to complete.

Those with marijuana convictions can also apply to a state court for an expungement of their records, but those cases will be decided individually.

And people with convictions that predate electronic records can also get a pardon, but they must apply individually, according to the New York Times. 

With the order, Maryland joins nine other states that have pardoned hundreds of thousands of marijuana convictions as legalization spreads.

In December, Biden also pardoned thousands of people who were convicted of use and possession of marijuana on federal lands and in DC. 

“}]] Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has pardoned more than 175,000 convictions on Monday – the largest in the United States – in an effort to give convicts ‘a fresh start.’  Read More