Massachusetts Governor to Issue Pardons for those Convicted of Cannabis Possession

Attorney General Maura Healey

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey plans to announce this week that she’s following the lead of President Joe Biden and issuing pardons to those convicted of simple possession of cannabis at the state level, her office said Monday.

The move could touch the lives of tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents with simple possession convictions on their records. Details of the plan will be announced at a news conference Wednesday.

It wasn’t immediately clear how far back the Democratic governor would reach to issue pardons. If she follows the wide-ranging pardons championed by Biden, the number of pardons could be in the tens of thousands.

In 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a question legalizing pot, the same year voters in California and Nevada also legalized recreational marijuana.

In the years since 2016, a bustling legal pot industry has sprouted up in Massachusetts, even as the drug remains illegal at the federal level.

In December, Biden pardoned thousands of people who had been convicted of the use and simple possession of marijuana on federal lands and in the District of Columbia.

The White House said at the time that Biden’s latest round of executive clemencies was meant to rectify racial disparities in the justice system. Biden had said his actions would help make the “promise of equal justice a reality.”

December’s action was meant to build on a similar round of pardons issued just before the 2022 midterm elections of those convicted of simple possession on federal lands.

At the time, Biden called on governors to issue similar pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses, which reflect the vast majority of marijuana possession cases.

As a Democratic candidate for governor in 2022, Healey indicated that she would heed Biden’s call.

It’s hard to know just how many people could benefit from Healey’s pardons.

According to a report by the Cannabis Control Commission, the panel charged with administering the legal cannabis market in Massachusetts, there were close to 69,000 civil or criminal violations for marijuana possession issued in Massachusetts from 2000 through 2013.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy