State Roundup: Pardons An Outgrowth Of Legal Pot, End To ‘War On Drugs;’ Pardons A First Step, What Happens Next? Police Probe Defacing Of Alsobrooks Campaign Sign

PARDONS COME AFTER POT LEGALIZATION, END TO ‘WAR ON DRUGS:’ Gov. Wes Moore pardons for 175,000 low-level criminal marijuana convictions is one of the nation’s most sweeping clemency acts that could affect as many as 100,000 people who were convicted on certain possession charges in Maryland state courts over the past four decades. The move will create a record of formal forgiveness and is part of a national movement to unwind criminal justice inequities as marijuana use is increasingly legalized. Katie Mettler, Erin Cox and Katie Shepherd/The Washington Post.

  • Among the pardoned convictions, more than 150,000 were for cannabis possession, and more than 18,000 for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. An individual might account for more than one of the pardoned convictions, and the governor’s office estimated that at least 100,000 people are affected by the pardons. Rachel Baye/WYPR-FM.
  • Moore said that the decision to issue the mass pardon was a natural outgrowth of voters’ decision to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2022. That decision led to economic opportunity in the cannabis industry, yet so many Marylanders — particularly in Black and brown communities — were still enduring consequences from when the substance was illegal. Brenda Wintrode and Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
  • “We know that legalization does not turn back the clock on decades of harm that was caused by the 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,” said Moore. Tashi McQueen/The Afro.

PARDONS ARE FIRST STEP; WHAT IS NEXT? The pardons aren’t necessarily the end of the legal road for those who hope to fully obliterate the charges from their records. Here’s what you need to know about who was pardoned, what it means and what’s next. Brenda Wintrode and Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

  • Jason Ortiz, director of strategic initiatives for the Last Prisoner Project, said the governor’s order Monday represents “the most powerful day in cannabis justice history.” The order directs the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to develop a process for criminal background checks that will note that a person has been pardoned for the misdemeanor possession and paraphernalia charges. The administration said it could take up to 10 months for that system to be in place. William Ford/Maryland Matters.

POLICE PROBE HATEFUL SYMBOLS ON ALSOBROOKS POSTER: Hateful lettering and imagery appeared on a campaign sign featuring Maryland Democratic Senate nominee Angela D. Alsobrooks, prompting a police investigation. The defaced sign, which sits on a grassy median near a busy six-lane road in Prince George’s County, where Alsobrooks is county executive, had two additions in black ink: the letters “KKK” near her hands and crosshairs drawn on her forehead. Lateshia Beachum and Erin Cox/The Washington Post.

  • Alsobrooks, who is Black, would be the first woman and the first Black elected to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate if her campaign is successful this fall. The county executive is running in a tight race against former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Staff/Maryland Matters.
  • “Hate, threats of violence, and racism must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” Hogan posted on X on Monday afternoon. “They have no place in Maryland.” Jeff Barker/The Baltimore Sun.

ALSOBROOKS VISITS B’MORE JEWISH COMMUNITY, A STRONGHOLD FOR HOGAN: Angela Alsobrooks traveled to the heart of Baltimore’s Jewish community Monday to meet with local leaders and promote her Senate candidacy. The Jewish leaders said they were grateful that she came — but wanted to keep the conversation going. The 11th legislative district, where Alsobrooks sat in an overcrowded conference room for a half-hour meeting with area Jewish leaders and then toured the Pikesville Armory redevelopment project next door, was a surprising area of strength for her Republican opponent, Larry Hogan, during his two successful runs for governor. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

DEL. BUCKEL CHARGED WITH DUI: Del. Jason Buckel, the top Republican in Maryland’s House of Delegates, has been charged with driving under the influence and other offenses, according to court records. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

COMMENTARY: SUPREMES’ MIFEPRISTONE RULING MATTERS TO MARYLAND LATINAS: For Latinos in Maryland, the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the challenge the FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifespristone is bittersweet. While we are relieved that scientific authority has triumphed over ideology, the case highlights the significant threat politicized health policies pose to the well-being of Latino communities. If the case had been considered, it could have reinstated disparities that were previously mitigated by the 2016 and 2021 reforms. Latinos in Maryland would have faced a disproportionate impact from these proposed restrictions. Despite their growing numbers, Latino representation among healthcare providers remains critically low. Marcos Montoya Andrade and Lauren Meraz/MarylandReporter.

HOWARD COUNTY DENIES QUARRY PERMIT RENEWAL: After 20 years in business, Savage Stone quarry has had its operating permit renewal denied by Howard County officials, who cited failure to live up to its conditional use agreement — including operating without a Clean Water Act permit. The county’s rejection follows over 80 complaints within the last five years from nearby residents who claim Savage Stone is responsible for persistent dark dust found on their properties, strong vibrations in their homes from quarry blasts, damage to their homes, and noise violations. Glynis Kazanjian/The Baltimore Post Examiner.

HOWARD STUDENTS FIGHT MOMS FOR LIBERTY ACTIONS: More than 550 Howard County students have signed a petition asking the Howard County Board of Education not to give in to the demands of Moms for Liberty, a conservative parent-rights group that’s seeking more restrictions on the books in school libraries. In neighboring Carroll County, the Moms for Liberty chapter successfully campaigned to get more than 50 books temporarily taken off school library shelves. Abby Zimmardi/The Baltimore Banner.

MO CO SCHOOLS HIRES NEW SUPER FROM VIRGINIA: Montgomery County Public Schools has announced a new superintendent for Maryland’s largest school system. Thomas Taylor, who most recently served as superintendent of Stafford County Public Schools in Virginia, will serve as the new school chief, officials announced during a news conference Monday. Kate Corliss/WTOP-FM.

HALF OF CARROLL SCHOOL STAFF FOR BANNING CELLPHONES: About half of Carroll County Public Schools staff believe cellphones should be banned in schools, according to survey data presented to the school board last week, while 37% of parents and guardians surveyed said cellphones should be banned across all grade levels. Thomas Goodwin Smith/The Carroll County Times.