Advertisement

Simple pot possession pardons could soon be easier, cheaper as Liberals move to table reforms

A young man smokes a marijuana joint during a rally in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 20, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

An hour before former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould is set to testify on the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Liberals are announcing they plan to change the law to make it easier to get pardons for simple pot possession.

In a tweet issued during a question period focused entirely on the controversial allegations of political interference, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he will give notice Wednesday afternoon that a bill will come shortly to speed up the process of applying for pardons and eliminate the costs of applying for one in the case of simple possession of cannabis.

Cannabis was legalized on Oct. 17, 2018.

Tabling notice is the first step required in legislative procedure before formally introducing a bill.

At least 48 hours’ notice is required before doing so, meaning the bill to amend the laws around simple pot pardons could come as soon as Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

Given the House of Commons rises for a two-week break as of Friday afternoon, it could also mean the legislation won’t be introduced until MPs return on March 18.

READ MORE: Ottawa moves to pardon Canadians with simple pot possession convictions

On legalization day, Goodale said the government plans to introduce legislation to allow people who have served their sentences for pot possession to apply for a pardon without having to wait a specified period or pay a fee.

Under the current laws, a Canadian applying for a pardon of a criminal conviction must pay $631.

They also face waiting times of between three and 10 years after the completion of their sentence before they can apply for one, depending on their crime.

WATCH: Gov. to move forward with ‘free and rapid pardons’ for simple marijuana possession charges

Click to play video: 'Gov. to move forward with ‘free and rapid pardons’ for simple marijuana possession charges' Gov. to move forward with ‘free and rapid pardons’ for simple marijuana possession charges
Gov. to move forward with ‘free and rapid pardons’ for simple marijuana possession charges – Oct 25, 2018

The waiting time to apply for a pardon for pot possession is at least three years, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Story continues below advertisement

A pardon does not make a past conviction disappear. Rather, it essentially sets aside the criminal record to give the person a second chance.

READ MORE: Canadians with past pot convictions won’t have to pay or wait to apply for a pardon

Once pardoned, a person’s criminal record is removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre computer system.

The exception to that is pardons for sexual offences, which remain flagged in the system despite the pardon.

A pardon is also different from expungement, which can legally make a past conviction disappear.

Sponsored content