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Maryland governor pardons 175,000 drug felons

Maryland governor pardons 175,000 drug felons

To make things perfectly clear, I need to explain my personal view on the recreational use of marijuana.  Though never a user (okay, tried it once), I have long advocated the decriminalization, and even legalization, of cannabis as a controlled substance – as we do with other addictive mind- and mood-altering substances, such as alcohol and tobacco (my personal preferences as a young man).

Based on my personal libertarian opinion, one might assume that I approve of Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s pardoning of 175,000 convicted drug abusers. Au contraire. 

My first objection has to do with the concept of mass pardons.  By definition, they are an abuse of the pardoning power we give the President and governors.  The purpose of pardons, as envisioned by the Founders was a power to correct legitimate injustices on a personal level.  People are convicted of crimes on a case-by-case basis.  I have no doubt that among the 175,000 individuals Moore pardoned there are many that are undeserving.  It is just a matter of logic and common sense.

Mass pardons suggest something more than correcting an injustice.  Moore claims the pardons are for an economic benefit to society.  In reality, it is a political action designed to gain political results.  Moore is expecting something in return – and that something is the political loyalty of those receiving pardons and their family and friends.

It is no small irony that these pardons are coming from a Democrat politician.  Democrats have been proffering campaign narratives that Republicans are undermining the judicial system with their criticism. After all, we are a nation that lives under the rule of law – and no one is above the law.  We are to believe that the justice system operates in an objective nonpartisan manner above reproach. That is what those on the left keep telling us.

Obviously, Moore does not believe that.  In pardoning those 175,000 individuals – who violated the rule of law — he is effectively saying “the law be damned.”   He operates as an autocrat, kicking to the curb the role of legislators, police, prosecutors, juries and judges – and the law itself.   After all, those pardoned did break the law and were found guilty by the system we are supposed to respect unconditionally.  Or so they claim.

(Blind respect for the judicial system does not seem to apply to the Supreme Court and other judges that do not follow progressive desires.  But that is another story, and I digress.)

Moore does not respect the rule of law but imposes his singularly personal opinion in defiance of the rule of law.  He uses executive power to interfere with the wheels of justice and reject the work of the legislature.

That does not mean that we must concede that all laws are good.  America has lived, from time to time, under some very bad laws – especially those that were later determined to have violated the Constitution – including slavery laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the more contemporary gang loitering laws.  (in those cases, I do favor pardons for those convicted under laws later deemed unconstitutional by the courts).  

The drug convictions are not that.  They are more like the arrests under prohibition laws of the twentieth century. Following the Moore theory, perhaps we should have issued mass pardons to the bootleggers and even Mafia rum runners.

Moore’s is just the latest example of the abuse of pardon powers.  Presidents have made it a sad tradition of pardoning family, friends and political allies for no good reason other than they could.  In 2003, Illinois Governor George Ryan – facing criminal prosecution himself – commuted the sentences of 167 prisoners on death row. Another travesty of justice.  And I say that as a person who leans against capital punishment.

What Moore did was use (abuse, in my opinion) his power as head of the Maryland executive branch to meddle in the judicial branch and override the legislative branch.  He took on the role of judge and jury.  Even worse, he nullified the rule of law by executive edict.

In terms of pardons, we grant the President and governors absolute power – and we know that such power corrupts.  Moore gives us a prime example of the truth of that axiom

So, there ‘tis,

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Jim wampler

    Commiecrats looking out for their own

  2. Joseph S. Bruder

    Leave it to Larry to play both sides of the fence.

    “not a user, but tried it once”. Where would you be if you had gotten caught by the police that one time? If you were black, you most certainly would have gone to jail for a few years. Given that you’re white, the police would have confiscated it and told you to go home and never do it again. Or your parents would have gotten a good lawyer, you’d have done community service, and your record would have been sealed.

    Of course, if a law is ruled unconstitutional, the person still broke the law as it was at the time. Does that let the lawbreaker out of prison automatically? No, they have to go back to court or be pardoned. It could be a mass pardon, or there might only be a few people. But the fact is, the law breaker didn’t respect the rule of law at the time.

    Marijuana use in Maryland was decriminalized as of July 1st, 2023. If a person is in jail for something that the legislature has deemed to no longer be a crime, why shouldn’t those arrested for it get out of prison? It’s not much different than getting out because a law was later declared unconstitutional. Why such a hue and cry for this mass pardon? I’m sure it was limited to those whose only offense was non-violent use of marijuana. Is it because the Governor is a Democrat? Trump has promised to pardon every one of the 1000 or so VIOLENT protesters from his January 6th attempted theft of the Presidency. I haven’t heard you complain about that.

    Do you think that all the marijuana users are Democrats? You’ve tried it, I haven’t, so out of a sample of two, the Republican is the lawbreaker. Is it because the Governor is black and you’re guessing that most of the people who are pardoned are black? “Among the 175,000 individuals Moore pardoned there are many that are undeserving”. Based on what, Judge Larry? “Logic and common sense” is the argument you make when you have no evidence to back your opinion. What logic? What common sense are you talking about? Your intuition? Because they’re hardened criminals (because they were arrested for marijauna charges)? Because a high percentage of them are black? You make a grand sweeping declaration that the Governor is doing something wrong, and assume that because he’s a Democrat that he’s fishing for votes.

    Right now, there are about 100 Republican Senators and Congressmen who are clutching at Trump’s coattails and frankly embarassing themselves because they think they’ll get elected again if Trump endorses them (even though his record is spotty, they might get past a primary but they’re more likely to lose unless they’re in a gerrymandered district). They will do anything, lie about anything, support any proposal that Trump likes, or vote against any bipartisan bill that Trump doesn’t like, just to gain his favor. I find that far worse than a Governor being compassionate to his constituents, no matter how evil you personally think smoking weed is.

    Most of those sentenced for marijuana violations were probably young kids – now they have no college or job training, and they are a cost to the judicial system. Why, because they chose marijuana instead of alcohol, or they got caught that one time they tried it, or they were black and didn’t have the resources to fight the charge and get community service. They paid their dues, why shouldn’t the Governor let them out and let them contribute to society?

    Commuting death penalties is a “travesty of justice”? Of course, you have to hedge your position and say you lean against the death penalty. The death penalty is final – you can’t reverse it after the fact if new evidence is found. It has also been found that blacks are sentenced to the death penalty at a much higher rate than whites. So much for equal justice under the law. There has never been evidence that the death penalty affects the commission of such crimes (most death penalty crimes are crimes of passion, or committed by people who don’t think they’ll ever get caught), and the cost of mandatory appeals far outweighs the cost of lifetime incarceration. Governor Ryan didn’t turn murderers out in the streets – those felons stayed in jail – but he did correct for deficiencies in the judicial system.

    Where is all your outrage when it comes to Trump? You and your fellow Republicans make every excuse for Trump’s many violations of the law. He was convicted of 34 felonies, and Republicans criticize the justice system rather than think that Trump broke the law. Even with his long history of cheating his customers and business suppliers, even though he’s still got an extra 60 or so felony charges still yet to be heard, even though he’s had over a half BILLION dollars in fines for fraud and rape, despite the evidence presented of him colluding with Russians and soliciting a bribe from Ukraine, even with all the money he and his family raked in while he was President, and even now as he shovels campaign cash right into his pockets – you can’t bring yourself to call Trump a felon, much less the habitual criminal that he’s always been.

    And what the hell does this even mean? “Blind respect for the judicial system does not seem to apply to the Supreme Court and other judges that do not follow progressive desires.” What progressive desires are you talking about? The ones about freedom of (and from) religion? The far right Justices on the Supreme Court have thrown out precedent and constitutionality in favor of their own religious preferences. Republicans don’t seem to think that Alito and Thomas accepting multi-million dollar bribes from billionaires who would profit from their votes is any big deal. And Trump and his Republican supporters think that anytime one of their own is prosecuted, it’s a witch hunt and the end of justice in the US, but they have no problems when it’s Democrats being prosecuted. Or even making up charges against Democrats.

    So, Judge Larry, why don’t you crawl down off that high horse before you fall off?

  3. frank stetson

    Joseph, nice piece, interesting vantage points. For me, this story is proof positive of how OLD Horist is. Not in age, but in vision. I mean Biden is old, but he has a clear vision for the future and how the wants o make America better. Horist’s vision is old, crusty, and he desires a return to a past vision of a reality he never knew.

    Let me rewrite his first graph to make it personal: “To make things perfectly clear, I need to explain my personal view on the professional and recreational use of marijuana. Always a user (okay, turned it down once), I have long advocated legalization of cannabis as a controlled substance – as we do with other addictive mind- and mood-altering substances, such as alcohol and tobacco (experimented a bit as a young man, but yech).”

    I have smoked, a lot. I have smoked everywhere. In the Capitol, in the Whitehouse, you name it, why not? I have smoked it, grown it, sold it, and more. I have bootlegged it across the Canadian border, I have run the cops like a Southern boy should. After 50 years of this, I still pay cash at the dispensary, I still look over my shoulder, muscle memory. Today, I find it to be the best analgesic known to man if you can tolerate the side effects.

    Here’s the point. Horist screwed up the story when he said: “Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s pardoning of 175,000 convicted drug abusers” because that never happened.

    It was 175,000 pardons, many to those convicted on more than one charge. Thus, it’s 100,000 people. Here’s some real numbers: more than 150,000 misdemeanor convictions for simple possession of cannabis and more than 18,000 misdemeanor convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. Horist apparently believes it appropriate to ruin someone’s life for a bong…some papers…. You tell me that Horist wants to ruin lives for something legal or decriminalized today? A misdemeanor then, legal today.

    He backs his view with “After all, those pardoned did break the law and were found guilty by the system we are supposed to respect unconditionally. Or so they claim.” Or so Horist claims. Jeeesch. Old. First, yes you are correct. Except that when the law changes, is it not be appropriate to pardon in reflection of the reality of the current law? Horist’s convenient reliance on process rationalizes his real goal: “After all, those pardoned did break the law and were found guilty by the system we are supposed to respect unconditionally.” Ding, ding ding, time to ding the Democrats and the real reason for Hoirst’s existence. Old. Fear, loathing, and old. He seems to forget that pardons are part of the law and therefore Democrats are indeed following the rule of law. Trump does one at a time in batches, Moore did a batch at one time. A difference without distinction.

    And to top it off, Moore pussied out to the Horists of the world and not one incarceration is cut short by the pardon. Only the crime is erased in the records so these folks can more easily live the lives that Horist wants to continue to make difficult. Over a joint. That should salve Horist’s need for punishment for rolling papers or a joint. Only the scarlet letter is removed to give these folks a second shot at life and no longer be branded: criminal.

    Now, here’s the big one Horist contends: “My first objection has to do with the concept of mass pardons. By definition, they are an abuse of the pardoning power we give the President and governors. The purpose of pardons, as envisioned by the Founders was a power to correct legitimate injustices on a personal level.” Here Horist does what old men love to do: preach their “code” trusting you will believe their “50 years of experience” and therefore evidence is not needed. Not sure how he know what the founder’s envisioned for example. He’s just got to know I would check, but his old man “I tell you whippersnapper” old man mindset creates a hubris that he thinks he can get away with it. So I looked at the Constitution, Maryland and Federal, and lo and behold Maryland’s is the same as the Federal Constitution which states: “The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of impeachment.” Sure looks like a plural to me and no where does it say: “personal level.” Just saying not sure where Horist came to his conclusion that pardons much be personal. But, if it helps him sleep, this pardon was not for jail time, but for the scarlet letter ruining these folks lives as adjudicated drug abusers where the current law would not brand them as Hoirst feels we should continue for the folks who are branded already.

    Wrong on the numbers, wrong on the pardon’s effect on incarceration, wrong on the Constitution, but right on Horist’s perennial “Democrats be bad” fear and loathing. You just cannot teach an old Horist new tricks.

    Next, coming from Maryland, I will regale you with, because Horist loves it, some personal anecdotes. Because Horist hates a good story, can’t stand any color, I will mark all embellishments to retain his ever-fleeting sanity.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … I actually read this one and proved that reading you crap is a waste of time.. LOL Unless you are again making up your personal history to romanticize yourself in your own eyes — as a “cool dude” — you are admitting to being a heavy drug user and dealer — a class A felon. Your personal disregard for the rule of law explains your left wing philosophy. And the years of use may explain your diminished mental capacity. — maybe even your obsessive animus toward me personally as seen in your constant criticism and personal attacks.. Actually, I do enjoy a GOOD story. You just do not tell any. People with good stories tell them accurately. They do not make them up in an admitted devotion to malarky.. You wrap your poorly argued and largely inaccurate points in bs, jealousy, animus and childish insults. I shall now return to the more interesting and relevant world and leave to your obsessive wallowing.

      • frank stetson

        Point out one fact in error you hateful, fearful little man who has created his own small pond to be a big fish in.

        Good ahead, y6u pugnacious prick, point out a factual mistake.

        I pointed out plenty in your piece o shit of a story and you refute nothing, FACTUAL.

        And then you dither on in your incoherent old man style judging my life on your peccadillo’s. Yeah, I am a pot smoker. In my youth, I sold a lot of it. Not much else. There’s people all over this site disregarding law and you say absolutely nothing to them. Within the past few days, a number have said they would refuse to follow ANY Democratic laws.

        I chose to break one that was finally overturned. I guess, in the long run, I was correct in that and you are a toad of an old man with, worse yet, old thinking. As far as diminished capacity — sure I have some as age will do. But still light years ahead of you, old man.

        Personal attacks? BULLSHIT. I may respond in kind, but you picked the fight, and you do it all the time, your reviewers, here and elsewhere, confirm your issue. Want the quote again how you pick the fight and then blame the other guy? Not me, but someone who followed your trivial exploits for years, laughing at the spanky the clown incident.

        Either toe the line and lets’ debate, do the preferred nothing, or continue to skip the response, skip the facts, and just fire away ah hominem man. Your bullshit about it’s OK because I am worse than you gets old. Also unsupported except rhetorically. As is your style. As if the best you can do.

        I still hope for better, a decent conversation, but this one was not it.

      • Joseph S. Bruder

        And yet, you also admitted to trying marijuana. That sounds like a personal disregard for the law. Pretty hypocritical of you to attack others for their own breaking of the law. Frank is correct – you and your wing of the Republican Party have become the old men standing on the lawns yelling at young whippersnappers. It’s time to hang up your spurs before you fall off your high horse.

  4. Rick

    Hope he has an encounter with some his new friends. The pompous, elite political class will do anything to remain in power. No sane person can believe this a responsible act.

  5. Darren

    I am glad I do not live in Maryland. As an elitist Democrat would say, take a Crap anywhere you want! Just not in my house!

    • frank stetson

      Says Darren whose “people” crapped in the nation’s house, the Capitol. Piss too.

  6. frank stetsonf

    OMG — Darren and Rick coming after the pot people too.

  7. frank stetson

    For Horist who claims to love a good story but calls the Irish who are renown for embellishment and believes “People with good stories tell them accurately. They do not make them up in an admitted devotion to malarky..” The first sentence is just blatantly untrue. The second sentence is a lie. Not a major, just a lie of EMBELLISHMENT. I never admitted devotion to malarky. I admitted devotion to an Irish culture that Horist demeans and defames in order that he can perceive a person victory against a virtual Stetson of his imagination. Right back at you, asshole :>) And this guy votes for Trump three times with a straight face. Nah, that’s not oldster thinking, nah. He actually states good stories are accurate. Sure, Dune was accurate, Star Wars spot on, and Hannibal, well maybe that one was based on the life of Horist…… :>) (Larry, the :>) represents a smile face which in the modern world means, that was a joke. Do you need the definition of joke to go along with one for “story.”:

    For the rest of us that actually know what a story may be,: Think “Last Days of May” lyrics. “Three good buddies were laughin’ and smoking In the back of a rented Ford. They couldn’t know they weren’t going far” Yeah, the boys had been out past Ohio and on the way home spotted some grass on the side of the road, probably road grass from an old hemp farm. Loaded up the trunk as full as it could get with (embellishment alert: EA) about 5 billion pounds. Skunk grass their addled brains convinced them they could bury, mold, and then sell as higher grade. Still skunk grass, would never work, it would taste yech but it had been done. Now think embellishment alert and NRPS’ Henry: “And now he’s rolling down the mountain. Going fast, fast, fast. And if he blows it this one’s gonna be his last. Run to Acapulco to turn the golden keys. Henry keep the brakes on for this corner if you please.” Coming across the PA turnpike they pulled over at Breezewood. Any good runner knows not to stop there. (embellishment alert) As General Ackbar said: “It’s a trap.” The cops just hang around there looking for strangeness. Same thing happens today, Route 80, Water Gap, all the time on their knees, cars strewn apart, on a regular basis 5 miles in. My county makes a pretty penny on the court cases. There are only so many E-W main roads out of NY and Phili. Less back then. Cops see the car is loaded down, ask the boys to pop the trunk, the driver stupidly does, and there are all those trash bags full of dope. Weight-wises they are the biggest bust in PA; mafia connections expected. It’s worthless side-of-the-road skunkweed. Bumfuck judge, late at night, tells them “Guilty and walk, innocent and welcome to hell.” They go guilty, no time, big fine, and lives ruined for the black mark. The scarlet letter. For skunk weed. My friend dropped from college, ended up a special ed school janitor spending his days on the roof smoking grass. At least he was happy. I would like to say it was the arrest, but it might have just been him.

    But I have to admit, the picture of the boys eyes as the driver says, “sure, search it.” Priceless. Probably should not smoke pot when doing business….. Although my close on any sale, the immortal: “it’s a business dealing pleasure to you.” HAGD Horist.

    PG County in MD was fairly rough back then. Friend’s metal apartment door was knocked on so hard, looked like (embellishment alert) a sledge hammer hit it. He was a user, of things stronger than pot too, but not a dealer, was not holding, which is what the warrant said. Cops streamed in with warrant, tossed the place, and magically found a bag. Not his, didn’t matter. Took years to clear to his records so he could get teacher’s credentials for the degree he had spent three years of a lot of cash for when the busted him. Pretty sure it was a plant that cost him all that time, all that money, he was ex-service too.

    OK, will close with a funny one, and no one gets busted or harmed, but it’s cool. Probably would make a good movie scene.
    We used to “import” from Canada. Back then, they favored hash because easier to sneak it into Canada at that timer so they had a bunch of it and IF you had pot, and knew how to get it in, it went for a premium. IF you were brave or stupid enough to attempt to bring pot in, you could make a very good barter to bring hash back. The problem was the boarder. Going in was pretty easy for regular tourists to Canada. The Americans didn’t search you leaving and the Canadians were pretty lax for tourism on the inbound at these borders, didn’t want to affect tourism with body cav searches. Actually, that was a scary part because you just didn’t know what might tip a search. We could send cars ahead, but without cell phones it was not elegant. But, as usual, they did not really search Americans coming in for the day. Coming back, not as easy, damned war on drugs had Americans ramped up and so…… If you notice, the Peace Bridge has a curve right before the American stop. It is very pretty. The Canadians don’t search you leaving Canada. It was the damned American’s war on drugs starting in 71 that you had to worry about. The beach is right below the curve, you can walk the bridge, be on the outer rail side away from the customs booths, and drop a package onto the beach at the curve. So, we get out a block before, and they drive it clean, we walk it. Back then backpacks were not seen as evil either, so no issues. It was exciting then, but funny now given 9/11 and all the cameras.

    Point is we were just kids having some fun and to think our lives could have been ruined forever over some joints seems shameful. I protested many years starting in 1970 but grew tired as my hair shortened, I began to regularly wear suits, and started looking downright Republican in my job and finances. When I joined corporate America, I quit for about a decade just to get some wind in my sails: these people were smart and I was a suburban cowboy from rural MD. After a while it just became a way of life to avoid the law on pot and go my own way. I have never been arrested, I pay my taxes, go to Church on rare occasions, I contribute to charity and community, and I never share or speak of pot. Before decriminalization, I would just buy from the same guy, a friend from 1969. Not sure what value arresting me ever would have been. I am pretty sure my being arrested or not would not change anything in America. But 100,000 of me would be a dent in the economy as we know it. Lives ruined, lifetime criminals created, economy dented, what a waste. Bravo to Moore for doing something to save some lives.

    PS: don’t fuck with me on this one Horist, I have a lifetime of pot stories never told.