Canadians can now have simple convictions for cannabis possession wiped from their records after a landmark announcement from Federal Justice Minister David Lametti this afternoon.
Lametti hosted a press conference in Montreal in which he declared Bill C93 has now come into force. It offers free and expedited record suspensions for all Canadians previously convicted of possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana.
This should make it easier for them to secure housing, education, and employment going forward, and to travel outside of Canada, while also saving them from paying a hefty fee to have their records wiped.
“Instead of waiting five years and paying a parole board $631, applicants will no longer have to wait a single minute and will not owe the parole board a single cent,” said Lametti in today’s conference in Montreal.
He added that the announcement would be “particularly significant” for many individuals within black and indigenous communities that have been disproportionately affected by the previous prohibition on cannabis.
Lametti, who also serves as Attorney General, estimates that roughly 250,000 Canadians currently have convictions that could be erased almost instantaneously under the new law.
Anyone who wants to wipe their record clean can now apply for a copy of their criminal record, have their fingerprints taken and have the record amended to remove the possession of cannabis offence.
Liberal Party Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale launched Bill C93 at the House of Commons in March. The aim was to remove barriers to “reintegration” for individuals who were previously penalized for a youthful indiscretion.
Previously, applicants would have to wait for five to 10 years after they were convicted to apply for it to be wiped, and pay a $631 fee for the privilege.
The bill received a number of amendments as it passed through various committees, but it finally gained Senate approval at third reading in June 2019. Now the bill has become law and Canadians can begin receiving pardons.
Canada legalized recreational cannabis use in 2018 and it will permit edibles, beverages, and other concentrates by the end of this year.