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The Cannabis Amnesty Town Hall on Racial Justice is our flagship event designed to provide a forum for discussing the way that racial justice is intimately tied with the development of cannabis laws and policies in Canada, situating the advocacy work we do in the broader historical and social context. Part educational and part inspirational, the Town Hall will critically explore the legal, political and social structures that allow racialized communities to be overrepresented in cannabis prosecutions but underrepresented in the legal cannabis industry in Canada. Designed to inspire actors in the cannabis industry to take up the fight for racial justice, it offers ways in which the legal industry in Canada can step up to counteract historical wrongs through active corporate social responsibility measures. More details coming soon.

 

 

 

 

Racial Equity Impact Assessment of the Cannabis Act

 

September 8, 2020 

Open Letter and Delivered by E-mail 


The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada 80 Wellington St. Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P. Minister of Health House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 

 


Dear Prime Minister Trudeau & Minister Hajdu, 


RE: Racial Equity Impact Assessment of the
Cannabis Act 

In legalizing cannabis, this federal government accomplished what many believed could not be achieved. Legalization sent a positive message to Canadians and to the rest of the world that we were ready to move away from the ineffective and discriminatory war on drugs and towards an approach to cannabis that focused on harm reduction and compassion. This monumental shift—ushered in through the Cannabis Act— must be applauded. 

Today, however, we are asking your government to go further. 

Cannabis Amnesty is calling on the Canadian government to commit to undertaking a Racial Equity Impact Assessment as part of its three-year review of the Cannabis Act. The legislated three-year review of the Cannabis Act provides an opportunity for a critical assessment of the administration and operation of this watershed legislation and to enhance its potential to be a tool for racial equity. 

The story of the enforcement of cannabis laws in Canada is one of historical injustice and inequality. Indeed, it is undisputed by this government that one of the greatest injustices in our country is the disparity and disproportionality of the enforcement of cannabis laws and the impact it has had on Black communities, Indigenous communities and those in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods. Despite similar rates of use across racial groups, BIPOC (“Black, Indigenous, People of Colour”) communities are disproportionately stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for cannabis possession offences than White Canadians. 

Given this history, the development of the legalization framework, as well as its implementation, should have involved robust consultation with Black and other racialized groups. This was not the case. The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation engaged with law enforcement, Indigenous peoples and youth, among others, but it did not adequately seek out the perspective of individuals or groups representing Black and other racialized Canadians. It is our position that this was a glaring error that must be fixed if Canada is to overcome its history of discriminatory cannabis regulation and enforcement. 

The opportunity to address this error comes in the from of a legislated review under section 151.1 of the Cannabis Act. Under the act, this review must take place before October 17, 2021. Section 151.1 requires the Minister to conduct a review of the Cannabis Act and its administration and operation. This provision mentions an assessment of the impact of the Cannabis Act on the health and consumption of young persons, as well as Indigenous persons and communities. While this provision makes no mention of assessing the Act’s impact on Black and racialized persons, the possibility of doing so is not excluded by its language. 

A Racial Equity Impact Assessment as part of the three-year review of the Cannabis Act would allow the government to determine the following: 

  • The impact of cannabis legalization on the physical and mental health of BIPOC communities, including on their cannabis consumption habits. 
  • Whether BIPOC are disproportionately stopped, investigated, searched, arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for the new cannabis offences created under the Cannabis Act
  • Whether legalization has had an impact on the relationship between police and BIPOC communities from the point of view of these communities; 
  • Whether legalization has had an impact on the way that BIPOC perceive how government treats them; 
  • Do BIPOC communities see legalization as something relevant to their lives or done to benefit the interests of their communities? Or do they see themselves as alienated from legalization? 
  • Have BIPOC been able to benefit financially from legalization? I.e. What do the numbers tell us about how many licenses have been issued to BIPOC? Do they participate in the industry in other ways? 
  • What barriers do BIPOC face in entering the legal cannabis industry? 
  • How many BIPOC have benefitted from C-93 simple cannabis possession pardons? Given the small number of C-93 pardons that have been issued to date, what barriers to accessing these pardons exist in BIPOC communities? 

Given what we now know about the insidious way that cannabis regulation has historically been a vehicle for systemic racism in Canada, conducting a three-year review of the Cannabis Act in the absence of a racial equity impact assessment would be negligent. Answering these questions is critical to determining whether the Cannabis Act has decreased the disproportionate way in which cannabis laws have negatively impacted BIPOC communities, or whether it merely continues this unacceptable legacy of system racism. 

Cannabis Amnesty looks forward to discussing this important initiative with you at your earliest convenience. 

 

Yours truly, 

 

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah Director of Research                                            Annamaria Enenajor Founder and Executive Director 


 

cc: The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness The Honourable Bardish Chagger, P.C., M.P., Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice 

And: The Honourable Greg Fergus, M.P. The Honourable Hedy Fry, M.P. The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, M.P. The Honourable Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, M.P. The Honourable Matthew Green, M.P. The Honourable Don Davies, M.P. The Honourable Jack Harris, M.P. The Honourable Scott Reid, M.P. The Honourable Erin O’Toole, M.P. The Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard, Senator The Honourable Marie-Françoise Mégie, Senator The Honourable Rosemary Moodie, Sr. 

 

 

ABOUT US 

Cannabis Amnesty is an independent, not-for-profit advocacy group focused on righting historical wrongs caused by decades of cannabis prohibition, particularly its impact on racialized communities. It was founded in April 2018 in response to the absence of federal legislation addressing the stigma of previous convictions for offences that would no longer be illegal under the Cannabis Act. Since then, it has campaigned for the government to enact legislation to delete criminal records relating to the simple possession of cannabis, launched public education campaign to fight the stigma associated with cannabis convictions and worked on criminal justice reform to make sure that the legal structures that allowed marginalized communities to be overrepresented in cannabis prosecutions are dismantled. 

 

RCU Partners with Cannabis Amnesty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RCU PARTNERS WITH CANNABIS AMNESTY

September 3, 2020 (Toronto, ON) - RCU - Responsible Cannabis Use, the company that operates the cannabis education platform canniknow.com has partnered with Cannabis Amnesty in a Canada-wide survey to educate Canadians on Bill C-93.

“With the introduction of Bill C-93, the government has provided a way for individuals to apply for an expedited records suspension without having to pay the $631 application fee. While this is an important step towards fixing the harms and removing the stigma caused by our governments’ historical prohibition on cannabis, Bill C-93 does not meet our standard for fair and effective cannabis amnesty,” said Dr. Akwasi Owusu Bempah.

A key motivation for cannabis legalization in jurisdictions around the world has been the recognition of the harm caused to people by criminalizing them for minor cannabis possession.

The results from the survey demonstrate the need for broad public engagement about cannabis record suspensions. Almost 80% of the respondents did not know that the government is allowing for cannabis record suspensions and over 90% did not know the eligibility requirements under the program. These survey results are not surprising considering that the uptake of the cannabis record suspension scheme has been low.

According to figures provided by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), as of August 2020, only 428 applicants in the cannabis record suspension program had been received, and just 257 of those have been approved. Despite the fact that the Canadian government estimates that as many as 10,000 Canadians may be eligible for a record suspension under their program.

In order to improve the life chances of people convicted of historical cannabis crimes and to ensure the success of the cannabis record suspension program, RCU and Cannabis Amnesty encourage the government to initiate a public awareness and education campaign to assist those in need and those eligible through the process of applying for their suspension.

 

About RCU - Responsible Cannabis Use

RCU (Responsible Cannabis Use) is a cannabis education company that brings awareness to cannabis facts, laws, regulations, and research. Through its products: Cann I Know and CannEd, RCU aims to educate all Canadians about responsible cannabis use. To learn more, visit thercu.org, follow RCU on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 


About Cannabis Amnesty

Cannabis Amnesty is an independent, not-for-profit advocacy group focused on righting the historical wrongs caused by decades of cannabis prohibition, particularly its impact on racialized communities. It was founded in April 2018, in response to the absence of federal legislation addressing the stigma of previous convictions for offences that would no longer be illegal under the Cannabis Act. Since then, they have campaigned for the government to enact legislation to delete criminal records relating to the simple possession of cannabis, launched public education campaign to fight the stigma associated with cannabis convictions and worked on criminal justice reform to make sure that the legal structures that allowed marginalized communities to be overrepresented in cannabis prosecutions are dismantled.


For Media Enquiries

Afshin Mousavian, RCU
press@thercu.org
T: 416-879-2873

Dr. Akwasi Owusu Bempah
research@cannabisamnesty.ca

Cannabis Amnesty Advocates Call for Decarceration to Protect Vulnerable Populations from Covid-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CANNABIS AMNESTY ADVOCATES CALL FOR DECARCERATION TO PROTECT VULNERABLE POPULATIONS FROM COVID-19  

  

“The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is adding its voice to the growing number of rights groups calling for the immediate release of as many inmates in custody as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

 

[Toronto, Ontario] – April 20, 2020: 420 celebrations this year will be overshadowed by national and international efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. While public events have been cancelled this year, April 20 continues to be a day of celebration and reflection for cannabis patients, consumers and advocates.

Today, we remember that historically, cannabis prohibition laws were unequally enforced in Canada. Despite similar rates of use across racial groups, those from minority and Indigenous communities as well as vulnerable neighbourhoods were disproportionately arrested for simple cannabis possession and were over-represented in cannabis prosecutions and convictions. Cannabis Amnesty has been campaigning to address this historical injustice and to improve the lives of the hundreds and thousands of Canadians who carry the burden of criminal records relating to simple cannabis possession offences.  

Our advocacy, however, does not take place in a vacuum. We are acutely aware that the unfair and unequal enforcement of cannabis laws are symptomatic of broader issues in our criminal justice system. Members of marginalized and vulnerable communities—particularly Indigenous and Black communities— are overrepresented not just in arrests and convictions for cannabis-related offences; they are also overrepresented in our prisons and jails.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the unique vulnerability faced by those in our prisons and jails. People in custody are likely to be more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19 because of close confinement, overcrowding, poor hygiene, and sub-standard health care. Currently, the only effective means of combatting the impact of COVID-19 is through social distancing, but the degree of social distancing required to reduce COVID-19 transmission in correctional facilities is not possible with the number of people presently held in these facilities. This creates incredibly dangerous conditions for individuals and community health. Tragically, one federal inmate has already died from COVID-19 related complications in federal custody in British Columbia and the number of infections is growing. We are concerned that outbreaks in tight spaces like detention centres and correctional facilities will happen quickly, be near impossible to control and will result in devastating fatalities. Those in Canadian prisons and jails should not be condemned to sit on death row. This is simply inhumane.  

As a result, the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is adding its voice to the growing number of rights groups calling for the immediate release of as many inmates in custody as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Among other options, measures should be taken to allow for the early release of those convicted of cannabis and non-violent drug offences. Decarceration is the only way to protect prisoners and staff of correctional institutions from COVID-19.

 

 

About Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty
www.cannabisamnesty.ca

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is a non-partisan, not-for-profit group composed of lawyers, activists, and entrepreneurs brought together by the belief that the harms caused by decades of marijuana prohibition must be made right. We started an online petition platform and successfully lobbied the federal government to pass legislation to provide expedited pardons to those convicted of cannabis possession offences. We have developed education and advocacy resources and work in partnership with industry to help Canadians across the country learn more about the harms caused by cannabis criminalization and what we can do to create a more fair and just national framework for cannabis legalization.

 

Further Information

Annamaria Enenajor, Cannabis Amnesty Director info@cannabisamnesty.ca,
416 964 9664

Tyler James, Community Outreach tyler@occra.ca,
647-523-0285

Statement on Bill C-93

Since its creationthe Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty has been fighting to persuade the federal government that legalization of cannabis is not enough. Justice requires that legislation be passed to undo the harms caused by the criminalization of cannabis possession and its enforcement, which disproportionately targeted Black, Indigenous, and vulnerable members of society. People with simple possession records should be put in the same position as those people who did the exact same thing, but—because of factors that have no bearing on their degree of responsibility, such as the level of policing in their immediate neighbourhood, access to resources, family connections and privilege—were never charged or convicted. Our campaign launched on May 5, 2018 with a petition asking the government to issue blanket pardons to all individuals for the offence of simple possession of cannabis. Our petition was signed by over 10,000 Canadians.

With the coming into force of Bill C-93, the government has provided a way for individuals to apply for an expedited records suspension without having to pay the $631 application fee. While this is an important step towards fixing the harms and removing the stigma caused by our governments’ historical prohibition on cannabis, Bill C-93 does not meet our standard for fair and effective cannabis amnesty: 
  • Bill C-93 does not provide for the automatic expungement of criminal records relating to cannabis— it requires an application. We know from previous experience that where the government institutes an application-based pardons regime, the uptake and participation from affected communities is extremely low. 
  • Bill C-93 only calls for the suspension— not the expungement (permanent deletion)—of records upon successful application. These records will continue to exist.
  • Bill C-93 waives the $631 application fee, but people will still be required to pay to obtain documents needed to complete their application — including their certified criminal record from the RCMP and any supporting documents from the police of jurisdiction. In many cases, these costs are prohibitive and constitute a significant barrier to access

The fight for true cannabis amnesty is not over

Despite the passage of this legislation, people across the country will continue to be limited by cannabis-related criminal convictions. The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty remains committed to achieving justice and equity for them.

 

HEXO Corp Provides Financial Support to the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty

HEXO Corp gives $10,000 donation to the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty

 

[Toronto, Ontario] – April 12, 2019: The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is proud to announce that HEXO Corp has joined the Campaign as Purple Partners. HEXO has generously donated $10,000 to help us seek justice for those negatively affected by minor cannabis-related criminal records. Cannabis Amnesty is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization working to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who carry the burden of criminal records relating to simple cannabis possession offences. Without amnesty, these individuals continue to face the negative impacts of a criminal record for engaging in activities that are no longer illegal under Canada’s legal cannabis regime.

HEXO Corp’s VP of Corporate Responsibility, Terry Lake, has provided a strong endorsement of our work.

As a former British Columbia Health Minister I am an ardent supporter of policies that improve public health, including the legalization of a well-regulated cannabis industry. Marginalized and racialized groups have been disproportionately affected by the enforcement of drug prohibition, and many cannabis law reform advocates have been criminalized for activism that paved the way for our legal cannabis industry. Having a criminal record is associated with a range of health and social vulnerabilities that can lead to poorer long-term health. Terry Lake, VP of CSR at HEXO

Upwards of 500,000 Canadians have criminal records related to cannabis possession. As a result of their criminal records, these individuals face increased difficulties in completing their education, securing employment and housing, and travelling to countries such as the United States. Cannabis Amnesty will use the funds provided by HEXO to continue lobbying the government to completely expunge the criminal records of people who were convicted of cannabis-related offences that no longer exist under the legalized cannabis regime.

 

About Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty
www.cannabisamnesty.ca

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is a non-partisan, not-for-profit group composed of lawyers, activists, and entrepreneurs brought together by the belief that the harms caused by decades of cannabis prohibition must be made right. We started an online petition platform and will develop education and advocacy resources to help Canadians across the country learn more about the harms caused by cannabis criminalization and what we can do to create a more fair and just national framework for cannabis legalization.

 

Further Information

 

Annamaria Enenajor, Cannabis Amnesty Director info@cannabisamnesty.ca, 416 964 9664

Tyler James, Community Outreach  
tyler@occra.ca, 647-523-0285

    

Breaking Habits Film Screening at TIFF

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Director of Research for the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty, was on the panel for the post-screening discussion of the film Breaking Habits with Sister Saige and Sister Steph of Sisters of the Valley and Sherry Boodram, CEO of CannDelta. The panel was moderated by Dr. Hance Clarke from the University of Toronto's Institute of Medical Science.

Breaking Habits is a new documentary that tells the powerful story of a former corporate executive turned cannabis farmer, who forms a company called Sisters of the Valley. Fighting against the authorities, the sheriff and local cartels, this is the story of Sister Kate, the “Weed-Growing Nun.”

The conversation explored key subjects highlighted in the film while examining various aspects of legalization in Canada and placing particular focus on the need for amnesty for those convicted of non-violent, possession offences.

 

Campaign to erase simple cannabis convictions rolls into Calgary

Published in Calgary Sun on March 30, 2019

A cross-country tour aimed at gathering support for the permanent deletion of simple cannabis convictions made a stop in Calgary Saturday.

David Duarte, experiential event manager with B.C. cannabis producer Doja, said a lot of Calgarians came by the Pardon truck to sign the campaign’s petition.

“This tour’s really about driving awareness,” Duarte said. “With cannabis legalization coming and going, people think the conversation about those who have a record has ended, and we’re saying it hasn’t ended, and we’re still here fighting for them.”

Doja and the Cannabis Amnesty campaign are calling for expungement for people with a simple possession of marijuana conviction.

Duarte noted federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has introduced a bill to grant expedited, no-charge pardons to Canadians with simple cannabis convictions.

“People think that’s kind of the end of the story, but that’s just really hiding it on the record as an apology,” Duarte said. “It can still be brought back up later, it can still be leaked, and expungement is actually deleting it off the record.”

Duarte said on Saturday, he heard from someone who continues to be affected by a cannabis conviction from the 1980s.

“He can’t even apply for a student loan because of this charge he has back in the ’80s,” Duarte said.

Those behind the campaign are hoping to gather at least 10,000 signatures by the time the cross-country tour wraps up in Toronto. The campaign started in Vancouver last weekend and will also include stops in Edmonton on April 5 and 6, and in Winnipeg on April 12 and 13. The final stop, which will feature a rally, is from April 18 to 21.

Pardons don't go far enough. Convictions for cannabis possession must be expunged

Published in CBC on October 29, 2018

In 2013, Justin Trudeau – then leader of the third-place party – admitted to having smoked cannabis about a half-dozen times. He was unapologetic. He noted that the most recent occasion was during a dinner party at his Montreal home — well after his election to Parliament. Two years later, he became prime minister.

Not all Canadians have had the privilege of using cannabis without consequence.

Today, more than 500,000 Canadians are encumbered with a criminal record for doing something that is now legal: possessing a small amount (30 grams or fewer) of cannabis. A criminal conviction has real and lasting consequences. It can restrict the bearer's access to employment, housing, travel and the opportunities that accompany them. This impact is grossly disproportionate to the actual harm caused by the simple possession of marijuana.

 

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CANNABIS AMNESTY ADVOCATES RESPOND TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

[Toronto, Ontario] - October 17, 2018: Today the Cannabis Act came into force accomplishing what many believed could not be achieved. Legalization sends a positive message to Canadians and to the rest of the world that it’s time to move away from the ineffective and harmful war on drugs and adopt a pragmatic approach that focuses on harm reduction rather than relying on antiquated stereotypes about cannabis consumers. This monumental shift must be applauded.

In spite of today’s announcement, many Canadians will remain left behind. Decades of cannabis prohibition have saddled hundreds of thousands of Canadians with criminal convictions for minor cannabis offences. Moreover, a history of unfair and unequal enforcement of cannabis laws have disproportionately burdened marginalized and racialized Canadians with cannabis convictions. Despite similar rates of use across racial groups, racialized Canadians are disproportionately arrested for simple cannabis possession.

This morning, the federal government announced that it intends to give pardons to Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana. The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty enthusiastically welcomes this news and we look forward to reviewing any proposed cannabis amnesty legislation that will eventually be tabled. Our main concern will be to ensure that any proposed regime meets the needs of the 500,000 Canadians who have their lives impacted by a criminal record for simple non-violent cannabis possession convictions.

We look forward to working with the government to accomplish cannabis amnesty in a timely manner. A fair and effective cannabis amnesty process must contain four central features: the application must be free, its effects must be immediate, the process must be simple, and it must involve the expungement or permanent deletion of records. Annamaria Enenajor, Director of the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty, stated, “Record suspensions or pardons are insufficient. They do not erase a convicted offence; they merely set it aside. Without expungement, individuals convicted of possession remain vulnerable to having their convictions reinstated. The government’s openness to consider cannabis amnesty gives us hope and our discussions to date have been fruitful, but the whole point of amnesty is to permanently eliminate, rather than merely suspend, the harms that stem from a previous cannabis conviction. Only expungement accomplishes this.”

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty recognizes that records in relation to cannabis offences are not all kept systematically and in the same place, but Ms. Enenajor adds, “Canadians should not be deprived of peace of mind because of our government’s poor record-keeping practices.”

LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE STRATEGISTS JOIN THE FIGHT FOR CANNABIS AMNESTY

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is proud to announce that Omar Khan and Melissa Lantsman have joined the Advisory Board for the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty. Cannabis Amnety is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization working to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who carry the burden of criminal records relating to simple cannabis possession offences. Without amnesty, individuals convicted of possession will continue to face the negative impact of a criminal record for something that will no longer be illegal as of October 17, 2018.

On October 3, 2018, Annamaria Enenajor, Director of Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty stood by NDP MP Murray Rankin as he announced that he would be tabling bill, C-415, An Act to establish a expunging certain cannabis-related convictions. Ms. Enenajor said, “while C-415 has been tabled by the NDP, we firmly believe that cannabis amnesty is a non-partisan issue that attracts the support of Canadians of all political stripes. The fact that both Mr. Khan and Ms. Lantsman have offered us their time and expertise on a pro bono basis is a testament to that. It is now time for our government to act.”

Omar Khan is a seasoned political and public policy professional who served as Chief of Staff to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care echoes this sentiment: “As a Liberal who has worked at the highest levels of the Party both federally and at Queen's Park, I urge the federal government to adopt Murray Rankin's private member's bill as government legislation. As we approach October 17th it's important to recognize that racialized and indigenous communities are overrepresented amongst those incarcerated for simple cannabis possession in this country.  It's time to address this injustice.”

Melissa Lantsman was head of Premier Doug Ford’s 2018 War Room and served as chief spokesperson for the campaign. Prior to that, she served as Caroline Mulroney’s leadership campaign director and held senior roles in the 2008, 2011 and 2015 federal Conservative Party of Canada campaign war rooms. She equally believes that the time has come to make cannabis amnesty a reality in Canada: “As a lifelong Conservative, I support NDP member’s Murray Rankin's private member's bill and urge the Liberal government to adopt this bill as government legislation. We need to help the over half million affected Canadians get their life back on track, without the burden of a criminal record for minor possession holding them back — we need to focus on violent and dangerous criminals.”

 

NDP introduce a private member's bill calling for cannabis amnesty

Toronto criminal lawyer and campaign director for <a href=

 

Murray Rankin, a New Democrat MP, announced today (Oct. 3) that he will table a private member's bill in the House of Commons calling for the expungement of criminal records for any Canadian carrying a charge for minor cannabis possession.

“This is a day I have been working on literally since the 1970s,” he said this afternoon in the House foyer.

“I believe it’s critical that Canadians who have criminal records for something that in two short weeks will be perfectly legal no longer suffer the burden of having a criminal record.”

Rankin was flanked by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh who called the initiative a “bold step forward”. If passed, Singh said, the legislation asks to delete the record for anyone thats faced minor, non-violent possession of a personal nature.

Annamaria Enenajor, a Toronto criminal lawyer and the campaign director for Cannabis Amnesty, also spoke during the scrum. The organization is a non-profit, non-partisan group working to improve the lives of Canadians with weed-related convictions.

Cannabis Amnesty estimates that over 500,000 Canadians live with charges for activities that will be considered legal after October 17—the official date of the federal legalization of cannabis.

When it comes into effect, Bill C-45 will allow for the personal possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis for adults over the legal age, including up to four homegrown plants.

“These are Canadians who have been barred from employment of their choice, volunteer opportunities, and from other opportunities where a screening or background check would have identified cannabis possession on their record,” Enenajor said to the press.

“We believe these Canadians deserve a second change and we believe our country deserves to have them input the best of their skills and knowledge to our marketplace.”

As a part of the campaign, Cannabis Amnesty says they reached out to all parties at all levels of government to seek their cooperation and input.

“We have heard from the Liberal party and we have had some discussions informing them about what expungement or cannabis amnesty would look like, but there has been no movement on that front,” said Enenajor.

“There has been no guarantee on the part of the government, no action, no movement on that front, but there has been an openness from them. I hope they take on that openness and attach to it a sense of urgency.”

Enenajor also drew attention to the systemic racism surrounding cannabis convictions across North America.

“It is incredibly important that these Canadians be allowed to get their life back on track without the burden of a cannabis conviction hanging over their heads. It is even more pressing given the reality that cannabis possession convictions and prosecutions in Canada disproportionately affect radicalized and marginalized Canadians,” she said.

“These Canadians are far more likely to have beens stopped by the police, arrested, and convicted, and receive a harsher sentences for this offence, and we think that is simply unfair and unjust.”

Rankin echoed the statement, adding that he has unofficially spoken to other MPs and government officials who acknowledge cannabis convictions disproportionately affect marginalized Canadians. He hopes other MPs will see this initiative as a social justice issue, and not a partisan tactic.

Rankin says he does not expect the bill to enter into debate before October 17, but he predicts that to take place sometime in early November.

The bill will be presented in the House of Commons today around 12:00 p.m. (PT).

UPDATE (Oct. 4, 2018 at 3:34 p.m. PT): Due to a lack of time, the bill was tabled on Thursday, October 4, 2018.

Doja and Cannabis Amnesty launch Pardon

DOJA Cannabis Limited and the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty are excited to announce the launch of PARDON, an advocacy campaign and product line that brings awareness to the injustices that cannabis prohibition has caused. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of PARDON products will be contributed to the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty. PARDON Products are also available at https://doja.life and in store at DOJA locations.

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Can Canada undo 'injustice' of cannabis possession convictions?

Montreal, Canada - Annamaria Enenajor says it's about righting a wrong.

The Toronto-based lawyer is among a group of other professionals and activists leading a campaign to get the Canadian government to grant amnesty to those with simple cannabis possession convictions on their records.

With Canada planning to legalise recreational marijuana by July 1, amnesty would address an "historic injustice" that has affected hundreds of thousands of people across the country, Enenajor said.

"We find it particularly unjust because we know that the individuals who are most impacted by the criminalisation of cannabis are people who are vulnerable members of society and marginalised and racialised members of society," she told Al Jazeera.

For the full article, click here

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Toronto Group Launches Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty

                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

         TORONTO GROUP LAUNCHES
                  CAMPAIGN FOR 
               CANNABIS AMNESTY

 


[Toronto, ON] (May 4st  2018) - The harms caused by decades of marijuana prohibition must be rectified. On May 5, 2018, a group of lawyers, activists and entrepreneurs will launch a campaign to ask the federal government to grant blanket pardons for individuals convicted of minor cannabis possession offences.

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty will launch at the 20th annual Toronto Global Marijuana March, taking place at Queen’s Park. Over the next few months, they will develop education and advocacy resources to help Canadians across the country learn more about the harms caused by cannabis prohibition. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians currently have a criminal record related to simple possession of cannabis. Pardoning these historical offences has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including those who are the most marginalized.

In February 2016, Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, acknowledged that one of the greatest injustices in this country is the disparity and the disproportionality of the enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws and the impact that those laws have had on minority and Indigenous communities as well as those in vulnerable neighbourhoods.  Yet, the federal government has not taken any steps to right these historic wrongs.

“The devastating impact of cannabis prosecutions must not be an afterthought as we march towards legalization,” says Annamaria Enenajor, Campaign Director and criminal defence lawyer at the Toronto-based firm Ruby, Shiller & Enenajor. “If we care about fairness and equality, cannabis amnesty must be front and centre. If we don’t address the discriminatory way this drug has historically been policed, we will reproduce discrimination in the process of legalization.”

A poll conducted in May 2017 by Nanos Research and the Globe and Mail indicated that 62% of Canadians either support or somewhat support pardons for people with criminal records for marijuana possession. The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is asking the government to ACT NOW and issue blanket pardons to all individuals for the offence of simple possession of cannabis.  

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