Committed to Cannabis Amnesty
The Cannabis Council of Canada recognizes that while Bill C-45 is a landmark piece of legislation and has brought unprecedented economic, political, and social implications, the Council reaffirms its commitment to social justice.
At the forefront, the Council advocates for the expungement of records of simple cannabis possession, and not simple pardons and suspensions. It would be a grave carriage of injustice if Canada neglected to expunge simple cannabis possession convictions.
This approach would bring Canada in line with other jurisdictions, such as California, which has adopted a blanket, proactive expungement regime for minor possession convictions.
In Toronto, “Black people with no history of criminal convictions have been three times more likely to be arrested by police for possession of small amounts of marijuana than white people with similar backgrounds,” – according to the Toronto Star.
“In Regina, Indigenous people were nine times more likely to get arrested for cannabis possession than white people, and Black people in Hali-fax were more than five times more likely to get arrested for possessing weed than white people” – as a VICE News Investigation showed.
Today, “more than 500,000 Canadians are en-cumbered with a criminal record for possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis, something that is legal now”. The Council acknowledges the lingering consequences of a criminal conviction that can restrict access to employment, housing, travel, and many other opportunities.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself said, “there is a disproportionate representation of young people … from racialized communities who are saddled with criminal convictions for … simple possession”, and despite similar rates of cannabis usage among white individuals and racialized communities, these dire consequences are disproportionately heaped on Black, Indigenous, and People Of Colour (BIPOC).
To continue the over-due work that needs to be done, the Council will work with Cannabis Amnesty to incorporate the Racial Equity Assessment into our advocacy for the upcoming mandatory legislative review of the Cannabis Act.
The Council reaffirms its commitment to expungement, rather than pardon or suspensions, of criminal records for simple possession of cannabis as a tool in remedying injustice and urges the government to right a historical wrong as the legal industry continues to mature.