I Have A Cannabis Conviction...Now That It's Legal, How Can I Clear My Record?

If you have an old conviction for cannabis possession in Canada, hope for clearing your criminal record is on the horizon. The opportunity to clear your criminal record could come as early as 2019. The federal government is working on expediting the pardon process for criminal offences that occurred during the prohibition era. Pardons would strike the conviction from their Criminal Record.

 The team at Sarah Leamon Law Group has years of collective experience navigating the pardon process for our clients. While the specifics of how to apply for an expedited cannabis possession pardon have not yet been finalized by the federal government, we are closely monitoring the legislation and proposed regulations, and will be ready the moment the new law comes into force to help you navigate the pardon process and win you back your clean record.

 There are real and substantial benefits to seeking a pardon, including greater eligibility for jobs, ease of international travel, access to housing or credit, and the elimination of the social stigma associated with having a record of past, previously prohibited actions available for anyone to see.

 

New Legislation

 The new law, currently before the house as C-93, would amend the Criminal Records Act to make it easier for people who have old cannabis convictions to seek a pardon.

Under the current system, applying for a pardon can be a time consuming and expensive process. Applying for a pardon carries a fee of $631 dollars. Applicants must also wait five to ten years from the date of their conviction before they are eligible to apply. The new legislation would waive both the fee and the waiting period, meaning that a person who was convicted of simple possession as late as the day before legalization came into force could be eligible for a pardon

 Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale indicated that the government expects as many as 80,000 of the almost 400,000 Canadians with convictions for simple cannabis possession.

 

What more needs to be done?

 This bill, however, does not address anything more than convictions for simple possession. The extra-legal apparatus of wholesalers, distributors, and salespeople who have been caught up in the criminal justice system are not eligible for the expedited pardon process. These people will still have to wait to become eligible for a pardon.

The bill also only creates an express lane for people who want to procure a pardon, but does not expunge records. Implicitly, this will be more accessible to people who have historically been more comfortable with the institutions and bureaucracy of the criminal justice system. We’re ready to help people who have convictions on their records but who may not be comfortable interacting with the state - we can do this on your behalf.

 

Expungement

This law does little to address the historic injustices of cannabis prohibition. Another legal alternative, expungement, would automatically erase records of cannabis possession (and other crimes, should the government see fit to include them in the legislation) and allow Canadian citizens access to their full rights and privileges associated with not having a criminal record.

The New Process

 The full details of how to apply for the expedited pardon process will be established by the legislation and by Order-in-Council by the Ministry of Public Safety after the legislation passes. The Minister has stated that he expects the legislation and the new pardon application process to be in place by Summer 2019.

Sarah Leamon