Cannabis Amnesty Key Facts

Here are some key facts about cannabis prohibition that moved us to take up the fight.

We demand justice, fairness and equality for all.


  • In the past 15 years, Canadian police agencies reported more than 800,000 cannabis possession “incidents” to Statistics Canada.

  • In just four years, between 2008/2009 and 2011/2012, cannabis possession accounted for approximately 59,000 adult and 14,000 youth cases in Canadian courts and 25,000 adults and almost 6,000 youth convictions.

  • An estimated 500,000 Canadians currently have a criminal record for cannabis possession.

  • Despite similar rates of use across racial groups, racialized Canadians are disproportionately arrested for simple cannabis possession.

  • The following is a description of racial disparities in cannabis possession arrests across Canadian cities for the year 2015.
    • In Vancouver Indigenous people were nearly seven times more likely than White people to be arrested for cannabis possession.
    • In Calgary Indigenous and Black people roughly three times more likely to be arrested than White people.
    • In Regina Indigenous and Black people were arrested seven and five times more than often than White people.
    • In Ottawa, Indigenous and Black people were four and five times more likely to be arrested than White, respectively.
    • In Halifax Black people were over four times more likely to be arrested for than White people.

  • As a result of their criminal records, many Canadians face difficulties travelling to the United States, volunteering in their community, and finding meaningful employment.

  • In addition, a criminal record for cannabis can interfere with a person’s ability to lease an apartment, qualify for a mortgage, or be accepted into certain university programs.

  • For non-Canadians and permanent residents, a criminal record can slow down and otherwise affect the immigration or citizenship process.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that Canadian cannabis laws have had a disproportionate impact on “minority communities, Aboriginal communities and those in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods”.

  • By harming economic prosperity and increasing reliance on social assistance, criminal records for minor cannabis offences ultimately harm Canadian families, communities and our country as a whole.

  • Unfortunately, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper eliminated Canada's pardon regime, substituted it with a "record suspension" regime and increased the costs of applying for a record suspension to $631, thus making it more difficult for Canadians to seek formal forgiveness past mistakes.

  • Politicians and appointees across the political spectrum, including Liberal MPs Greg Fergus, NDP MP Murray Rankin, and independent Senator Wanda Bernard have supported our calls for cannabis amnesty.

  • It is time to correct the past mistakes of the Canadian government and law enforcement agencies by providing blanket pardons for people with minor cannabis convictions.
Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is an Open Democracy Project Civic Campaign Accelerator participant. Website by DemocracyKit, created with NationBuilder.