Ottawa to Speed up Pardons for Cannabis Convicts

Before rising for a summer break, Parliament passed a new law that allows people with a criminal record for marijuana possession to be pardoned expeditiously and without any cost.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the new bill is aimed at shedding the "stigma" of a criminal conviction, and also removing barriers for employment, education, housing, volunteering and travel that is inflicted on people who have a record for simple possession of cannabis.

Previously, it could take up to a decade for people to receive a pardon for a cannabis possession conviction. But the new law, titled Bill C-93, dramatically expedites the process to receive a pardon. The new law speeds the pardon process by eliminating the potential five- to 10-year wait time and waives an application fee of $631.

The new law calls for a "simplified and expedited version" of the pardon process, and will be allowed as long as the sentence had been completed and if the only conviction on a person’s criminal record is for simple marijuana possession.

Of 54,940 cases of cannabis-related offences, 76% were for simple possession in 2016, according to data from Statistics Canada. In October 2018, Canada became the first industrialized nation to legalize recreational cannabis.