Canada considering what to do about past cannabis convictions (POLL)

Jan 31 2018, 9:26 pm

As San Francisco announces they will retroactively apply their marijuana-legalization laws to previous criminal cases, the Canadian government is considering a similar move.

San Fran District Attorney George Gascón announced on Wednesday that he would be reviewing, recalling, and resentencing up to 4,940 felony marijuana convictions.

He would also be dismissing and sealing 3,038 misdemeanors sentenced before the legalization of marijuana in California in November 2016.

Writing on Twitter, Gascón said the War on drugs was a failure, and it’s time he took action to undo the damage it has done.

California’s marijuana legalization law, Prop 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act), already allows for pot smokers to petition to have their past convictions reduced or wiped.

However, said Gascón, people petitioning to have their convictions erased from the records needed an attorney and not enough people had applied.

What about Canada?

So would Canada consider doing something similar when cannabis is legalized in July 2018? Daily Hive asked federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

A spokesperson for his office said once cannabis is legalized, they will examine how to “make things fairer” for Canadians previously convicted for minor possession offences.

Here’s their full statement:

We are in the process of a major change in Canadian society. We have had a law on cannabis in place for a century that has proven to be an abject failure. Canada has the highest rate of cannabis use among young people in the western world, its profits are flowing into the hands of organized crime and we’re spending billions to enforce a regime that doesn’t work.

Our government is changing the law to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, keeping the profits out of organized crime and do a better job of dealing with impaired driving. We’re taking the time to make this change in an orderly, coherent way. In the meantime, the existing law remains in place. We’re working assiduously to get the job done.

An individual convicted of simple possession of marijuana, up to 30 grams, is eligible to apply for a record suspension through the Parole Board of Canada, five years after the sentence is completed.

We will be making reforms to the pardons system based on input Canadians shared in public consultations.

Pardons are the final step in the reintegration process. Inaccessible pardons can be a significant barrier to good employment as many positions require criminal record checks.

We want to ensure that the waiting period, fee and purpose of the program are fair, proportionate and productive. We will do that by implementing evidence-based criminal justice policies that support rehabilitation, prevent crime and victimization, and keep our communities safe.

Once Bill C-45 is enacted, we will examine how to make things fairer for Canadians who have been previously convicted for minor possession offences.

See also
Daily Hive StaffDaily Hive Staff

+ News
+ Politics
+ Canada
+ Grow
+ News & Policy