Marijuana possession: Will Canada expunge records?

Marijuana possession: Will Canada expunge records?

Canada has announced that it will be legalizing marijuana possession in amounts under 30 grams as early as next year. In the meantime, thousands of Canadians are living with criminal records for possession of this soon to be legal drug.

Criminal records can have enormous consequences on people. They can affect their ability to find a job, enter certain types of educational programs, travel to other countries and volunteer. 

Getting rid of a criminal record is not easy either. If you are charged with a summary offence, such as possession of less than 30 grams, you must wait five years after the end of your sentence to apply for a pardon. Pardons are now called Record Suspensions. You also must pay a fee of $631 in addition to other miscellaneous fees, such as police checks.

Add to this the fact that most people charged with possession are at the beginning of their working life, and one can see how the negative aspects can add up. The early 20s are when people are selecting college programs and just starting to think seriously about jobs and career. Will a marijuana charge prevent them from becoming a paramedic, a nurse, or even a computer programmer?

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has stated that Canada is not considering pardons for those convicted of possession. However, that message was softened a bit, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they might consider some retroactive approach once marijuana has been legalized.

In the meantime, Canadians are waiting to see how the government will reform the pardon system. Expunging only marijuana records would be a costly and time-consuming affair. Some legal experts don’t even think it’s possible given the fact that some convictions may have been plead down from trafficking offences. In some cases, the charges may not specify what “narcotic” the person was guilty of possessing. Therefore, those individuals could be passed over. It’s not even certain that Canada will attempt it, as they have not made any commitments to do so.

Our proposal will help benefit Canadians with marijuana charges by making it easier to accomplish their goals sooner. Let’s help Canadians get back to work and move forward with their lives by making pardons free and fair.

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