BOSTON (WHDH) - Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced Wednesday that she is taking executive action and pardoning convictions for simple marijuana possession.

Healey’s pardon follows the lead of President Joe Biden, who took similar action for federal offenses in October 2022 and urged governors to take action in their states.

“We’re taking this nation-leading action as part of our commitment to using the clemency process to advance fairness and equity in our criminal justice system,” Healey said in a statement. “We’re grateful for President Biden’s leadership on this at the federal level and proud to answer his call to take action in the states.”

If approved by the Governor’s Council, the pardon would apply to all adult Massachusetts state court misdemeanor convictions prior to March 13 of this year, the same day as the announcement, for possession of marijuana.

Bay state residents voted to decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2008, to legalize medical marijuana in 2012, and to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016 with the first dispensaries opening in 2018.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll said the pardons reflect the evolution of the way cannabis is treated by the state.

“Marijuana laws have significantly changed over the past decade, and it’s essential that our criminal justice system adjusts with them. Governor Healey’s proposed pardon represents an important step toward righting historic wrongs, particularly around our country’s misguided War on Drugs,” Driscoll said in a statement. “We thank the Governor’s Council for their careful consideration of this recommendation and look forward to continuing our progress to make Massachusetts a more fair and equitable home for all.”

The governor’s office described the plan announced Wednesday as the “most comprehensive action by a governor” since Biden’s call to action.

“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.

The Governor’s Council needs to approve Healey’s decision before it can take effect.

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