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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

From the Office of Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles

In a Dec. 1 letter to Gov. Moore, Sayles, County Executive Elrich and eight Councilmembers call for pardons and expungement of records following the passage of the Cannabis Reform Act

Montgomery County Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles is calling on Gov. Wes Moore to pardon all incarcerated individuals convicted for non-violent possession of cannabis offenses.  

In a Dec. 1 letter to Gov. Moore, co-signed by County Executive Marc Elrich and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Marilyn Balcombe, Natali Fani-González, Andrew Friedson, Will Jawando, Sidney Katz, Kristin Mink and Kate Stewart, Sayles calls for pardons and the expungement of records for low-level drug offenses in response to the passage of the Cannabis Reform Act (H.B. 556/S.B. 516).

“I am grateful to Gov. Moore for working to create a more just and equitable recreational cannabis industry. Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis, there are still deep historical disparities that need to be addressed, and now is the time to give individuals a fresh start as we reap the financial and medicinal benefits of this once-criminalized medication that disproportionately decimated communities of color,” said Councilmember Sayles.

“As the County’s Lead for Eliminating Disparities, this letter sends a clear message that Montgomery County leaders are committed to working with Gov. Moore to rectify the significant harm caused by the war on drugs. I look forward to partnering with the governor to pardon those serving sentences for non-violent possession charges and expunging records of similarly charged individuals.”

“Too many Marylanders and their families have had to face setbacks throughout their life due to the stigma of having a low-level cannabis conviction on their record,” said County Executive Elrich. “Furthermore, these conviction rates disproportionally hurt individuals in our Black and Latino communities. I support the effort to expunge records and I appreciate Gov. Moore’s willingness to continue to support programs that help rectify the lives of those impacted. We need this issue to be as important as the focus on the future of the legal and profitable cannabis market.”

The letter notes the disproportionate incarceration rates of Black and Brown residents and calls on the governor to take meaningful action to improve the state’s justice system. 

“We must make our criminal justice system more just and equitable. I am encouraged by Gov. Moore’s leadership and join my colleagues in urging the governor to grant pardons or expungements for non-violent cannabis offenses,” Councilmember Jawando said. “Our justice system in Maryland and the United States should match our highest ideals and values, and this is a moment where we can move in the right direction. My colleagues and I look forward to continued partnership with the governor as we work to improve the lives of our residents.” 

“We need to help to initiate action for those currently convicted for an offense that is no longer prohibited, and work to ensure that we remove it as a barrier to housing or employment opportunities,” Councilmember Katz said. 

“The war on drugs had a devastating impact on communities across the country, including here in Maryland, through deeply inequitable enforcement and sentencing policies,” Councilmember Mink said. “We should do everything we can to bring anyone incarcerated for non-violent cannabis violations back into the community and relieve the burdens those conviction records create.”

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Release ID: 23-401
Media Contact: Ezra Pine 240-777-7846
Categories: Laurie-Anne Sayles