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Goodale pledges to address pardons for pot possession convictions after Bill C-45 becomes law

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government will find a way to make things fair for those convicted of cannabis-related crimes once legalization comes into effect on Oct. 17, 2018/ . CP Images

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government will look at ways to make things fair for those who have criminal records for marijuana possession after legalization comes into force.

Goodale says the question of pardoning individuals with criminal records for possessing marijuana is legitimate and one the government will pursue once the law takes effect.

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“When that law changes, which will happen on the 17th of October, then the government will turn its attention to those issues that arise once the law has changed which is in fact making sure that it is fair both in current terms and historic terms to everyone,” Goodale said on CTV’S “Question Period” Sunday morning.

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Goodale also made the point that the existing law has not yet changed.

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Goodale’s office said once Bill C-45 is enacted, the government will examine how to make things fairer for individuals who have been previously convicted for minor possession offences, adding that it’s committed to reforming the pardons system.

“Inaccessible pardons can be a significant barrier to good employment as many positions require criminal record checks. We want to ensure that the waiting period, fee and purpose of the program are fair, proportionate and productive,” said a spokesperson for Goodale.

READ MORE: NDP MP to table bill pardoning pot crimes ‘immediately’ after Bill C-45 becomes law

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The government’s legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana passed last week, but it won’t come into effect for another three months.

In the lead up to legalizing marijuana, the NDP repeatedly called for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal possession before it becomes legal.

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NDP justice critic Murray Rankin is expected to introduce a private member’s bill aimed at expunging criminal records of individuals with convicted marijuana-related crimes in the fall after the legislation comes into force.

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