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Stoner Symphony

Massachusetts Wants to Pardon ‘Hundreds of Thousands’ of Cannabis Convictions


The Governor of Massachusetts has announced ambitious plans to issue tens of thousands of pardons to people convicted of minor cannabis offences.

After the state legalized cannabis in 2016, following the decriminalisation of possession eight years earlier, Governor Maura Healey said the pardons were a simple matter of justice.

“Thousands of people are still living with a conviction on their records a conviction that may be a barrier to jobs, getting housing, even getting an education,” she said.

Aiming to issue pardons for misdemeanour cannabis charges extending as far back as the 1970s, Ms Healey has suggested the move would represent the most comprehensive issuance of pardons since President Joe Biden pardoned federal cannabis possession convictions and called on governors to follow suit.

Notably, it comes as 36 members of Congress call on the President to make good on his recently reiterated commitments to grant clemency for minor cannabis convictions.

The group points out that the federal pardons he announced in 2022 are yet to see a single person released from prison and that pardons do not expunge criminal records.

Ms Healey’s planned pardons will now need to be approved by her council, and then would come into effect immediately, meaning those with convictions do not need to take action.

According to the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, between 2000 and 2013 there were nearly 70,000 civil or criminal cannabis violations issued, and it estimates that these pardons could end up benefiting hundreds of thousands of people.

During a press conference, Healey said she chose pardons over expungement because she only had the power to enforce the former.

“I’ve got to execute on what I have the power to execute on, which is to pardon,” she said.



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