The Canadian federal government took a much-needed step towards rectifying past Drug War injustices on Thursday when it announced that a new no-cost system with vastly expedited wait times will take effect immediately for individuals with cannabis possession-related offenses of under 30 grams.
Attorney General David Lametti says that the new pardon process will be “almost instantaneous.”
A 2014 study estimated that over 500,000 Canadians had such marijuana-related offenses on their records. 41,800 individuals were arrested for cannabis possession in 2016 alone. Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair estimated that 70,000 to 80,000 Canadians would be eligible for pardons under the new system — but on Thursday, Lametti expanded that prediction to more than 250,000 people.
The government was aware that the restitution of past criminal records would be a big part of cannabis legalization, particularly since the legal system penalized people of color at rates far higher than Canada’s white population.
“We know that this is particularly significant for many in minority communities, including black and Indigenous Canadians who have been disproportionately affected by the enforcement of cannabis laws,” said Lametti
Previous to the passage of Bill C-93, Canadians had to go through a process of asking for the