Massachusetts Cannabis Pardons Approved By Governor’s Council

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey’s plan to mass pardon misdemeanor cannabis possession convictions in the state was unanimously approved by the Governor’s Council; the pardoning action takes effect immediately.

Full story after the jump.

The Massachusetts Governor’s Council last week unanimously approved the mass pardoning request by Gov. Maura Healey (D) for cannabis possession convictions in the state, the State House News Service reports.

The pardoning action took immediate effect, theoretically wiping out all misdemeanor cannabis possession-related convictions ever handed out under Massachusetts state law.

“Massachusetts changed state laws around marijuana possession and this proposal is based on the simple premise of fairness and equity that a person should not bear the mark of conviction for an offense that is no longer a state crime.” — Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden, in a statement to the council

Notably, the courts have yet to establish a system for identifying individuals who have received a pardon and updating their records accordingly, the report said. Councilor Terrence Kennedy called on officials to establish an automated system for identifying eligible individuals, recording their new status, and notifying them of the pardon.

“Don’t you think we should be making more of an effort to find those other people, and who they are? Most people that have a marijuana conviction don’t know what’s going on in this room today, and never will,” Kennedy said in the report.

The governor and Lt. Gov. Kimberly Driscoll (D) have each stated that eligible individuals will not need to take any actions to receive the pardon but, if desired, they can apply for an optional pardon certificate from the governor’s office.

Gov. Healey’s pardoning action is the most significant follow-up to President Joe Biden’s request for governors to follow his lead in issuing pardons for low-level cannabis possession.

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