CANNABIS CULTURE – More Canadians are asking the government to take action on pardoning marijuana-related convictions as the country moves forward with pot legalization.
Politicians, activists, lawyers, criminology professors and Canadians with marijuana convictions have in recent days called for record suspensions or expunging of records for pot crimes, which can often hurt the lives of former convicts and make it difficult to find employment or travel abroad.
The Canadian Press reported today on the growing chorus asking for pardons:
Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd said criminal convictions have significant effects on people’s abilities to travel and work. Though pot possession doesn’t carry the same stigma as other crimes, it’s still a conviction that may be weighed against a job seeker, he said.
He said Trudeau’s government should use its legislative powers to pardon Canadians with simple possession convictions.
“I don’t think that should stay as a criminal record, given that we now are approaching an era in which it is going to be seen as analogous to alcohol or tobacco, and taxed and regulated in a somewhat similar manner.”
Boyd noted that U.S. authorities can still refuse to allow people who have been pardoned to cross the border.
Dana Larsen of Sensible B.C., a marijuana-legalization advocacy group, said in addition to pardons he’d like to see Trudeau or a future prime minister apologize for prohibition.
Critics say the Liberal government isn’t moving fast enough.
“The current government could have taken immediate action, but has not,” NDP Justice Critic Murray Rankin said while grilling the Liberals in the House of Commons last week. “There are no details, no timeline for decriminalizing marijuana possession, no commitment to expunge the record of hundreds of thousands of Canadians convicted for simple possession, and thousands are still unfairly facing possible arrest, tying up the police and our justice system.”
“If we are even entertaining the notion of not having any more criminal records for possession of marijuana, we certainly shouldn’t be creating any more new convictions,” Victoria lawyer Robert Mulligan told the Times Colonist.
Even Trudeau himself – before the election – supported the idea of overturning previous convictions for marijuana.
Unfortunately, the process could take a while, as there is no one database for marijuana crimes and some are listed under “narcotics”.
“There’s a lot to this; it’s a challenge, and to expect the government to do it all so quickly is probably not realistic,” Mulligan said.