Canada Has No Plans To Clear Existing Criminal Records For Pot Possession
The Canadian government has no plans to expunge the criminal records of people convicted of marijuana possession, despite tabling a bill Thursday that seeks to legalize recreational use by July 2018.
One of the biggest questions hanging over the Liberal government's legalization efforts has been whether people previously convicted of pot offences will get a clean slate once those same crimes are no longer on the books. However, the government's legalization bill — known as the Cannabis Act — contains no such measure.
Public Safety Canada said there are no plans to address the issue in another piece of legislation, either.
"The Government of Canada is not considering granting blanket pardons for previous convictions of simple possession of cannabis," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed Canada.
The government's own backgrounder on legalization highlights the "serious, lifelong implications" of carrying a criminal record for pot.
"People with criminal records may have difficulty finding employment and housing, and may be prevented from travelling outside Canada," says the document.
"Keeping Canadians, especially youth, out of the criminal justice system for simple cannabis possession is a key goal of the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis."
The government says that more than half of all drug offences reported by police are for possession. In 2014, this resulted in more than 22,000 criminal charges.
The only recourse for those stuck with criminal records, according to Public Safety, is to apply for a record suspension through the Parole Board of Canada. However, people are only eligible to apply "five years after the individual’s sentence has been completed."