Pardons now available for Canadians convicted of simple cannabis possession

Canadians charged with simple pot possession will now be able to apply for pardons online. Attorney General David Lametti announced Thursday that the new expedited process will cut waiting times and be free of charge. Sharon Yonan-Renold reports.

OTTAWA – Canadians who have been convicted of simple cannabis possession can now have that criminal conviction wiped from their record: Bill C-93 has officially come into force.

“An act to provide no-cost, expedited pardons for simple possession of cannabis,” Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said on Thursday.

The bill passed in the Senate in June. The legislation gets rid of the $631 fee to apply for cannabis possession pardons, and also does away with the five to 10 year waiting period to get applications finalized.

“People who have a criminal record, only for simple possession of cannabis, can apply for a free, no-wait pardon using this expedited process, making it easier to work, go to school, travel, and actively participate in our communities,” Lametti said.

The move comes several months after recreational marijuana was legalized across the country. However, despite legalization,  Lametti said there were “consequences of the previous system” that carried over.

“It saddled many Canadians with criminal records, and the people affected are disproportionately from minority communities,” he said.

Lametti estimates there are upwards of 250,000 Canadians who have some form of cannabis possession conviction. Pardons, once approved, will be “almost instantaneous.”

Prior to cannabis legalization on October 17, 2018, people who were convicted of simple possession in Canada could face up to six months in jail as well as be slapped with a $1,000 fine.

-With files from CityNews

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