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Cannabis is now legal in Canada!

On October 17, 2018, the federal government announced that it intends to give pardons to Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana. This is a major success for our movement. Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and who was part of the fight to make this possible!

But the fight for justice isn’t over.

We believe that fair and effective cannabis amnesty must contain four central features: the application must be free, its effects must be immediate, the process must be simple, and it must result in the permanent deletion of records. Only expungements will accomplish this, but this is not what the government has proposed.

Instead, the government’s plan requires individuals to participate in a complicated application process before they can get a pardon. Also, instead of expungements, the government plans to use a type of pardon model called “record suspensions.” Record suspensions do not result in the permanent deletion of an individual’s criminal record; they merely set the offence aside. Without expungement, individuals convicted of possession remain vulnerable to having their convictions reinstated or inadvertently disclosed. The whole purpose of cannabis amnesty is to permanently eliminate, rather than merely suspend, the harms that stem from a previous cannabis conviction. Pardons do not accomplish this objective.

Moreover, the record suspension model implies that individuals with convictions for personal possession of cannabis are being “forgiven” for their crimes. We want the government to expunge these records, to signal to the Canadian population that cannabis never should have been criminalized in the first place, and to make amends for the discriminatory manner in which cannabis laws have been investigated and enforced.

How do we get there? The federal Liberals are not the only party to have turned their attention to our calls for cannabis amnesty. On October 4th, Jagmeet Singh and Murray Rankin of the NDP tabled a private member’s Bill, C-415 “An Act to establish a procedure for expunging certain cannabis-related convictions” in Parliament. Our Director, Annamaria Enenajor was directly involved in making C-415 a reality. Her press conference with Singh and Rankin can be found here. If passed, C-415 will expunge the criminal records of Canadians with convictions for personal possession of cannabis. We believe that this is the right approach and we will continue to push for expungements over pardons.

For now, we hope you will continue to spread our message to your friends, family and colleagues and send them to www.cannabisamnesty.com/petition to add their voices to our movement.

Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is an Open Democracy Project Civic Campaign Accelerator participant. Website by DemocracyKit, created with NationBuilder.