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Cannabis Conviction Pardons: A Step Toward Housing and Economic Justice

The Homeless Persons Representation project celebrates Gov. Wes Moore’s decision to pardon 175,000 cannabis convictions in Maryland. The disproportionate impact of cannabis-related arrests on marginalized communities cannot be overstated. Despite similar rates of cannabis use across racial groups, Black and Brown individuals have faced higher arrest rates. These convictions perpetuate a cycle of disadvantage, and, by pardoning these convictions, Maryland acknowledges the systemic bias that led to these arrests and takes a crucial step toward rectifying historical injustices. The consequences of injustice extend beyond legal penalties. Homelessness heavily affects individuals with criminal records, as they often face significant barriers to securing stable housing due to discrimination, poverty, and systemic racism. People on community supervision, such as probation or parole, are particularly vulnerable to homelessness and the associated health risks, including the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. When it comes to building thriving communities, we cannot overemphasize the importance of prioritizing alternatives to incarceration and investing in comprehensive support services, including permanently stable housing, to break the cycle of homelessness and reduce the disproportionate impact on individuals with criminal records. HPRP has been working collaboratively with other legal services organizations across Maryland on cannabis expungement education and outreach. Together, we aim to ensure that affected individuals are aware of their rights and have access to resources for expungement. Rectification and community healing involves more than wiping records clean: It requires addressing the root causes of discriminatory enforcement and ensuring access to justice for all. We applaud Gov. Moore’s bold action, and we will continue to encourage further dialogue, transparency, and collaboration among policymakers, community members, and advocates so we may work together to build a truly equitable and compassionate Maryland. To seek assistance with expungement, please visit: 

Shore Legal Access 410.690.8128 Harford County Bar Foundation  410.836.0123 Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County  240.391.6370 Homeless Persons Representation Project  410.685.6589 Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service  410.539.6800 Allegany Law Foundation  301.722.3390 Maryland Legal Aid  888.465.2468 FreeState Justice  443.977.4254 

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