While marijuana possession was legalized for recreational purposes last year with Bill C-45, known more commonly as the Cannabis Act, that law didn’t change the legal status of any citizens previously convicted of a marijuana-related crime.
That may soon change, as Bill C-93 was tabled in the House of Commons this afternoon and is currently being debated. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued this tweet today regarding the bill he had announced earlier in the week:
Today, I introduced Bill #C93 which would take unprecedented action to allow people with criminal records only for simple cannabis possession to apply for a pardon & waive the fee and the 5-10 yr wait period for the 1st time in history pic.twitter.com/l7EpBLjaTa
— Ralph Goodale (@RalphGoodale) March 1, 2019
As noted in the tweet, the bill would change the rules for seeking a pardon in regards to cannabis possession convictions.
Under current rules, anyone convicted of marijuana-related offense would have to wait 10 years to seek a pardon for indictable offense or 5 years for summary offense. In either case, anyone seeking a pardon would normally pay a $631 fee.
Bill C-93 waives both the fee and the waiting period. Pardons under this revamped system notably don’t completely expunge the criminal record, but does it separate the record from other criminal offenses.
Pardoning marijuana-related convictions prior to the Cannabis Act going into effect isn’t the only change being sought after adult recreational cannabis usage was legalized nationwide last autumn.
Last week, the non-profit group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana launched a media campaign to pressure the government into changing tax regulations on medical cannabis.
The campaign kicked off with appearances by both Liberal and CPC MPs at Parliament Hill. In addition to politicians, doctors and patients at the event called for new legislation to eliminate taxes on marijuana prescribed for medical purposes using rallying cry #DontTaxMedicine.
While increased access or loosening existing restrictions have frequently been the focus of cannabis advocacy since last October, some provinces are seeking to put the brakes on legalization to a degree.
The majority CAQ party in Quebec for instance is currently holding hearings on raising the minimum marijuana usage age from 18 to 21 in the province.