United States: Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey on Wednesday proposed a pardon for more than half a million people who were convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in the past years, despite the state legalizing cannabis in 2016.

The Democrats followed further President Joe Biden’s earlier pardon of thousands of people who were charged with marijuana possession under federal law and in Washington, D.C, encouraging the governors to repeat the same move as well as the state’s offenses, as reported by Reuters.

Such actions from the Massachusetts governor would fulfill a campaign promise Healey made in the run-up to the elections 2022 and, as per her office, are the most comprehensive action that a governor has undertaken since President Biden, a former Democratic President, asked governors nationwide to issue pardons for the people who were prosecuted under the same circumstances.

“Nobody should face barriers to getting a job, housing or an education because of an old misdemeanor marijuana conviction that they would not be charged for today,” Healey said in a statement.

Blanket Pardon for Historical Marijuana Offenses

Blanket pardon covers all adult state court misdemeanors that were based on marijuana possession in the past. The pardon must be approved by the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, an elected body that offers advice and informs on pardons.

In October 2022, Biden has pardoned many people convicted of possession of simple marijuana under federal and District of Columbia law. In December, he authorized another proclamation that went further by adding to that list of pardoned offenses.

In his State of the Union address to Congress last week, Biden mentioned those pardons by saying, “No one should be jailed for using or possessing marijuana,” and he has issued an order to his administration to consider the restrictions of federal marijuana.

Addressing Historical Gaps

Approximately 38 U.S. states have the legalization of marijuana in some form, although in some states, it is considered illegal, and in others, at the federal level. In 2016, Massachusetts voters legalized weed usage for recreation.

The Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, Andrea James, commented that the pardons would repair historical gaps causing the excess incarceration of black and brown people, who usually experience more difficulties in getting a job, housing, or any higher educational opportunities.

National Trend in Marijuana Pardons

In 2018, governors in other states such as Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin have taken the step to pardon marijuana crimes, as reported by Reuters.

Unlike many of those pardoning actions, the one done by the Massachusetts office does not require that the convicted of marijuana offenses should be able to apply in order to obtain the relief and does not require it to be the only offense a certain person has had, a spokesperson for Healey said.