Canadians have a lot to celebrate, as the country is now one of only a few in the world to legalize cannabis.
But for those with pot possession convictions, they’ll still be waiting for the opportunity to even apply for a pardon, The Globe and Mail reports.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said at a news conference today that the Liberal government plans to have legislation for the application process for pot pardons before 2019. But, it will take time for that legislation to become law—not to mention the length of time an application would take to process once the supposed system is in place.
That likely means Canadians who’ve been convicted of possession of cannabis under 30 grams will not begin to be pardoned until next year.
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“The laws with respect to cannabis that have existed historically, we believe, are out of step with current mores and views in Canada, but are not of the same nature as the historic, social injustice that was imposed in relation to the LGBTQ2 community,” Goodale said. He referenced how those who were convicted of crimes in Canada before 1969 related to homosexuality had their records expunged due to “profound historical injustice.”
The application for pardons for simple cannabis-related convictions in Canada are to be free of charge and will not include a prerequisite waiting period following sentence served, according to Goodale.
“As a general principle, removing the stigma of a criminal record for people who have served their sentence and then have shown themselves to be law-abiding citizens enhances public safety for all Canadians,” he said.
Before entering a caucus meeting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that pardons will make a “real difference,” according to CTV News. However, when confronted with pardons will not being available immediately, he said it would’ve been “irresponsible” to make moves before cannabis legalization.
As for how pardons for cannabis possession convictions could affect Canadians bearing them who will be crossing the U.S. border, Goodale said these would not necessarily eliminate potential issues.
“The Americans determine their own processes and procedures… Obviously, we will be watching closely to ensure the experience at the border is a good one—but the fact of the matter is that they can establish their own rules,” he said.