Ahead of Juneteenth, Maryland Pardons 175K Pot Convictions, Seeking to Remedy Harms of War on Drugs

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We host a roundtable conversation on Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s historic pardons of 175,000 marijuana-related convictions in the state, including drug paraphernalia-related convictions. Jheanelle Wilkins is the chair of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus; Maritza Perez Medina is the director of federal affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance; and Jason Ortiz, who was himself arrested at the age of 16 for cannabis possession, is director of strategic initiatives at the Last Prisoner Project. “It’s incumbent upon us to make sure we take action to repair the harms” of the war on drugs, says Wilkins. Maryland legalized the use of recreational marijuana in 2022, but the mass pardons provide historic relief for those who faced criminal consequences while the drug was illegal. Moore says he timed the pardons for the week of Juneteenth, the federal holiday on June 19 to mark the end of slavery in the United States — a symbolic move that underlines the disproportionate impact of drug criminalization on Black communities. Our guests call on other states and the federal government to follow Maryland’s example, as we also discuss the Biden administration’s recent descheduling of marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule III drug. “This needs to go further,” says Medina. “We want to make sure we’re also focusing on community investment and retroactive relief,” adds Ortiz.

Full article on the Democracy Now website at http://www.democracynow.org/2024/6/18/maryland_cannabis_pardons

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