No-cost, expedited pardons for simple possession of cannabis
People with criminal records only for simple possession of cannabis should be allowed to shed the burden and the stigma of that record, eliminating barriers to job opportunities, education, housing, and even the ability to simply volunteer for a charity in their community.
Today, the Government of Canada took an unprecedented step in its commitment to provide pardons for simple cannabis possession with no application fee and no wait time, by introducing Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis. The bill proposes to allow Canadians previously convicted only of simple cannabis possession to apply for a pardon (also known as a record suspension) and, for the first time in history, waives both the fee and the wait period.
The enforcement of cannabis laws in the past disproportionately affected certain Canadians, particularly members of Black and Indigenous communities. Removing the stigma of a criminal record, and eliminating the fee and wait time to do so for people who have already served their sentence and then shown themselves to be law-abiding citizens enhances public safety and opportunities for all Canadians.
“The Cannabis Act’s coming into force marked an important step in the process of legalizing, strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis in Canada. This proposed legislation will help eliminate what are disproportionate consequences, and reduce barriers to reintegration for Canadians convicted only of simple cannabis possession.”
- The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“Ensuring timely access to pardons for individuals previously convicted only of simple possession of cannabis will help make things fairer for these Canadians - including visible minority communities, Indigenous communities and those in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods - who should have greater access to employment, volunteering opportunities, educational programs, and housing.”
- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
Under the proposed legislation, individuals who have been previously convicted only of simple cannabis possession would be able to apply for a pardon with no application fee or wait period, once their sentence has been served. A person would be able apply even if they are not a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada.
Simple possession generally refers to a criminal charge for possession of a controlled substance, in this case cannabis, for personal use with no intent to traffic.
Federally, a pardon reduces barriers to reintegration placed on an individual as a result of their criminal record and allows them greater access to job opportunities, educational programs, housing, and the ability to volunteer in their communities.
Manager of Media and Communications
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
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