By Madeline Holcombe

Thousands of people with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions will be pardoned in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee said.

Washington voters approved legalizing marijuana as a tax revenue measure in 2012. Initiative 502 legalized and regulated the production, possession and distribution of cannabis for people ages 21 and older.

Now, Inslee has announced the Marijuana Justice Initiative, a plan to expedite record clearances for thousands of citizens who were convicted of small-time possession charges before the law came into effect. About 3,500 people could be pardoned by the Marijuana Justice Initiative, according to the governor's office.

Inslee said he hopes the change will alleviate undue burden on those previously convicted.

"We shouldn't be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in Washington state," Inslee said. "Forgiving these convictions can help lessen their impact and allow people to move on with their lives. It's a small step, but one that moves us in the direction of correcting these injustices."