Canadian politicians are being bombarded with inquiries regarding blanket amnesty for previous marijuana-related convictions once legalization takes effect in July. Since Prime Minister Trudeau’s election in 2015, some 15,000 people have been charged with a marijuana-related offense. Another 500,000 have marijuana-related convictions on their records.
Activists say that amnesty is necessary to stop plaguing the hundreds of thousands with convictions that continue to negatively impact people, The Guardian reports. The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty began a petition to ask the Canadian government to consider pardons for marijuana possession charges. Signatures are being collected and the organizers hope to reach 5,000 by the end of the month.
The pending legislation doesn’t mention marijuana convictions that already exist. Canadians are affected the same way Americans are when it comes to having a marijuana possession charge or drug conviction on their records. It can make finding a job or ample housing or obtaining student loans difficult or impossible.
Annamaria Eneajor, a Toronto Lawyer and director of the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty, said, “The criminalization of cannabis is so drastic and disproportionate to people’s lives.”
Arrests and possession charges are disproportionate in Canada, as they are in the U.S.
While it was mentioned by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale that the Canadian Government is “weighing all the legal implications” of amnesty, nothing more has been said. Some offenses would have to be manually accessed due to how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police database works.
There is a process in place now to remove the charges from records and have them dropped, but it costs $600 and requires a 5-year waiting period.
An answer may come prior to finalization of recreational marijuana legalization and implementation in Canada.