With the stroke of a pen, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 convictions for possession of cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia on Monday.

The move is believed to be one of the largest mass pardons of minor drug crimes in the nation’s history, with the governor and justice reform advocates saying it’s an important step toward righting the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.

But 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.

How is a pardon different than an expungement?

A pardon removes a guilty verdict. Only the governor can issue a pardon.

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“It’s basically a forgiveness of the wrongdoing,” said Angus Derbyshire, pro bono director for Maryland Legal Aid.

An expungement, however, clears a person’s public record “almost as if it never existed,” he said. This means a conviction will not longer show up in a court records search or a background check. Only a judge can authorize an expungement.

Derbyshire recommended those with cannabis charges seek expungement as soon as possible. Many cannabis charges could be eligible for expungement, he said — “Don’t wait.”

Even after a pardon and an expungement, there are instances where someone may have to disclose a prior conviction even though you have had your record expunged. Having a state pardon absolving you of your guilt should benefit the review of your records, according to an administration official.

Will I be notified if I received a pardon?

No. The state will not send notifications through the mail. Because some of the arrests could be decades old, the addresses could be out of date, according to administration officials.

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You can go online to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search and look up your case. The updates are expected to be completed in the next several weeks.

How do I prove to an employer or landlord that I was pardoned?

Pardons should start showing up on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search in two to three weeks, according to administration officials. Look at the list of events in the electronic docket.

If you have access to a printer, you can print out the record from case search. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can visit the clerk’s office at a Maryland courthouse and, for a nominal fee, you can request a printed copy of the record.

Public libraries also provide printer access.

I believe I am eligible for a pardon but I didn’t get one?

If it’s been several weeks since Moore signed the pardon order on June 17, and your pardon hasn’t shown up in Maryland’s Judiciary Case Search, then you can apply for a pardon using the state’s process.

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What if I have other charges in addition to cannabis or paraphernalia possession?

The law has pathways to expungement when the charge was one of many and allowed people incarcerated on simple possession charges to petition for resentencing and release.

Is the state automatically expunging my cannabis charge?

Possibly. The expungements mandated by the 2022 ballot referendum were for simple cannabis possession convictions in cases where that offense was the only charge. If that is true in your case, then you don’t have to take any action.

Administration officials estimated there are about 40,000 simple possession convictions being automatically expunged.

Paraphernalia possession convictions will not be automatically expunged. If you want to have your record wiped clean, you can file a petition to a judge.

What other steps could be coming to help people who have been pardoned?

Somil Trivedi, chief legal and advocacy director for Maryland Legal Aid, said even with the pardons, Marylanders still could face difficulties in getting approval for housing, jobs, professional licenses and even government aid programs because the records will still be online.

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”We are thrilled about today’s announcement and we were proud to take part in crafting it,” Trivedi said. “And now we need to make the promise real for the tens of thousands of low-income people, who despite the pardon, could still face consequences like job loss, denial of housing, denial of public benefits — even having their children taken away, based on the underlying conduct of these pardons.”

Legal Aid has sent a list to the governor’s office of government programs, like food benefits, unemployment insurance and public housing, that should be updated to exclude these pardoned convictions from consideration.

“They’re committed to doing it,” Trivedi said, “and that work starts today.”

State lawmakers are discussing legislation to automatically clear records once a pardon has been issued.

Are there groups that can help me apply for an expungement?

Yes. In addition to finding information on the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance’s website, the statewide organization staffs a hotline and an online chat Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Maryland Legal Aid holds regular community expungement clinics and has a toll-free hotline.

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Here are a few others: Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service; Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County; Shore Legal Access; Harford County Bar Foundation; Homeless Persons Representation Project; Allegany Law Foundation.

Court officials are preparing for a possible increase in applications for expungements to follow the pardons.

In Baltimore, Clerk of the Circuit Court Xavier Conway said his office is ready.

“Our office is committed and ready to provide all necessary assistance to ensure that pardoned individuals in Baltimore City can navigate the expungement process smoothly and efficiently,” he said in a statement.

Those with convictions in Baltimore can seek help through the clerk’s office by calling 410-333-3733, emailing clerkbaltcitycomm@mdcourts.gov or visiting the office in the Mitchell Courthouse on North Calvert Street.