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Massachusetts Will Pardon People Convicted of Cannabis Possession

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey plans to pardon all individuals convicted of simple cannabis possession, potentially impacting “hundreds of thousands” of people. This move aims to address racial disparities in arrests and provide justice. The pardon is the second such action by a governor since President Joe Biden issued a pardon in October 2022 for simple possession.




Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced plans to pardon all people convicted of simple cannabis possession in the state, a move that could affect “hundreds of thousands” of people who have been charged.

“We believe this is the most comprehensive cannabis pardon announced by any governor in the United States. The reason is simple: justice requires it,” Healey said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Read more about the cannabis law in Massachusetts and find other important cannabis news from around the world with the mobile app. The app is available for free for both Android and iOS devices, and keeps its readers up to date with the most importnat market updates.

While the state doesn’t have exact numbers on how many people would be affected by the pardon, Healey said it could be “hundreds of thousands” of people in Massachusetts

Healey also pointed to the racial justice the pardons would bring to the state. A 2016 ACLU of Massachusetts report found that Black residents accounted for 24% of cannabis arrests in the state, even though they make up only 8% of the state’s population.

“We can be confident that this pardon will repair some of the damage that these disparities have caused in Massachusetts, and we will continue to do everything we can to eliminate racial injustice throughout the system,” Healey said.

The pardon does not cover other cannabis-related charges, including those involving distribution or driving under the influence of the substance. Without a pardon, simple cannabis possession charges can appear on people’s criminal records, affecting their ability to obtain a job or housing.

“This announcement today means that people in every community across the state will no longer be punished for conduct that is now legal,” Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, told WBUR. In 2016, voters in the state approved proposed legislation to legalize recreational cannabis use.

The pardon in Massachusetts is the second such action by a governor since President Joe Biden issued a pardon in October 2022 for simple possession of cannabis on federal lands and in Washington, D.C. Biden urged governors across the country to do the same for charges related to possession of small amounts of cannabis in their condition.

In November 2022, Kate Brown, then-Governor of Oregon, pardoned over 47,000 people in the state for cannabis possession charges of one ounce (~28 g) or less.

Biden then expanded his pardon in December 2023 to include people who were charged with using or possessing cannabis on federal property, in addition to simple possession of cannabis. He renewed his call for governors to issue simple pardons.

“Too many lives have been turned upside down because of our misguided approach to cannabis,” Biden said in a statement in December. “It’s time to right these wrongs.”


(Featured image by 12019 via Pixabay)

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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.