Mass. Governor Healey Seeks Broad Pardon for Marijuana Convictions

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced a groundbreaking plan Wednesday to pardon past misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions across the state. Calling it a “nation-leading effort,” Healey aims to provide blanket pardons for eligible cannabis offenses through executive action.

If approved by the Governor’s Council, the pardons could impact hundreds of thousands of people with prior convictions for low-level marijuana crimes that are no longer prohibited. The proposal follows President Biden’s call last year for governors to take similar clemency actions at the state level.

“Nobody should face barriers to jobs, housing or education because of an old marijuana conviction for conduct that’s now legal,” said Healey. “We’re proud to advance fairness and equity through the clemency process.”

The pardons would apply to all prior Massachusetts misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession before March 13, 2024. Most people won’t need to initiate requests, as eligible records will be automatically updated.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll praised the effort as “an important step toward righting historic wrongs” of the failed war on drugs. Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell cited the disproportionate harm inflicted on communities of color by cannabis criminalization.

State House Speaker Ronald Mariano stated the pardons align with legislative intent behind Massachusetts’ 2018 criminal justice reforms and subsequent marijuana law updates allowing expungement of certain past offenses.

If approved, Massachusetts would join a handful of other states taking widespread clemency action to address the harms of decades-long marijuana prohibition. Healey’s move follows Biden’s pardons for federal cannabis possession convictions last fall.

As societal views around marijuana rapidly evolve, efforts to provide relief to those ensnared by antiquated laws have gained momentum nationwide. Massachusetts now aims to go further than most in clearing a path for hundreds of thousands impacted by minor marijuana convictions.


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