Cannabis was legalized today in Canada, and hot off the heels of legalization came an announcement from the federal government saying that the process for pardoning cannabis possession convictions will be updated soon.
“We will be proposing another new law to make things fairer for Canadians who have been previously convicted of simple possession of cannabis,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in a press conference.
“As a general principle, we’re removing the stigma of a criminal record for people who have served their sentence and shown themselves to be law-abiding citizens enhances public safety for all Canadians.”
Those who have cannabis possession convictions under 30 grams (the new permissible amount for recreational use) will be eligible for a pardon.
This new legislation is expected to come into effect before the end of the year, after it is reviewed in Parliament. Currently, an application for a cannabis possession pardon costs over $630, and involves a wait time of several years.
Under the new legislation, pardons would become free with no waiting period involved.
Victoria MP ahead of the curve
Earlier this month, Victoria MP Murray Rankin tabled a similar private member’s bill that called for a more efficient system to expunge non-violent cannabis related criminal records.
His bill, Bill C-415, also called for a free and faster expunging process for the roughly half a million Canadians burdened with a criminal record for something that is now legal.
“Over 500,000 Canadians have a criminal record for cannabis possessions,” said Rankin to the House of Commons.
“That’s 500,000 Canadians who may be barred from finding employment, from volunteering in their communities, from finding a place to rent, all for the non-violent action that will soon be perfectly legal.”
For more information on cannabis in Victoria, check out our article on where you can legally buy and smoke cannabis in the city.