Victoria-based MP Murray Rankin officially tabled his private member’s bill (bill C-415) in Ottawa on Thursday, calling on criminal records for any Canadian carrying a charge for minor cannabis possession to be expunged.

Bill C-415: An Act to establish a procedure for expunging certain cannabis-related convictions, is Rankin’s response to the roughly half a million Canadians who have cannabis-related criminal records.

“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.”

Rankin also noted that a disproportionate number of these non-violent cannabis-related convictions belong to marginalized or racialized peoples.

“In Toronto, black people without a criminal record were three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people. In Halifax, five times as likely.”

“In Regina, it’s nine times more often for Indigenous people.”

Under the current pardon system, an application for a pardon costs over $630, with wait times of several years.

Under Rankin’s bill, the process will be faster and completely free.

“This bill is about righting past wrongs, and it will help hundreds of thousands of Canadians to get on with their lives.”

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