Only 484 marijuana pardons have been granted since program started in 2019 | CBC News

It has been greater than two years for the reason that federal authorities launched a program to supply Canadians with felony information for easy marijuana possession a quick, free pardon — however solely 484 individuals have been granted one thus far.

Critics of the system say the low variety of pardons utilized for and granted proves this system is unfair to the individuals affected most and {that a} blanket expungement of felony information ought to happen.

In response to figures offered by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), 780 individuals utilized for a pardon between August 1, 2019 and Oct. 1, 2021. Of these purposes, 484 had been granted and three had been discontinued.

The PBC mentioned that 288 purposes had been returned as a consequence of ineligibility or incompleteness and 5 extra purposes are nonetheless being reviewed.

The federal government initially estimated that about 10,000 Canadians could be eligible for the pardons, generally known as “document suspensions.”

PBC spokesperson Jésula Drouillard mentioned the variety of purposes may be decrease than anticipated for quite a lot of causes. Some candidates would possibly have cannabis-related costs apart from easy possession, she mentioned.

“People with easy possession of hashish convictions may also produce other convictions similar to theft or mischief, which might make them ineligible for a hashish document suspension and, subsequently, fall into the ‘common document suspension’ stream,” Drouillard mentioned in an electronic mail.

The Liberal authorities handed a regulation in 2019 eliminating this system’s $631 utility payment, waiving its five-to-10-year ready interval and rushing up the utility course of. The federal government legalized and controlled the possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana for leisure use in 2018.

On the time, the PBC despatched letters to about 2,000 police and different justice companions, and a number of other hundred organizations that cope with youth, psychological well being and addictions and Indigenous or Black Canadians, to lift consciousness about this system and its eligibility standards.

It additionally produced an utility information with step-by-step directions and arrange a toll-free info line and electronic mail handle to reply questions.

A cumbersome course of

Patricia Erickson, a professor of criminology and drug coverage knowledgeable on the College of Toronto, mentioned making use of for the pardon is troublesome and has discouraged many individuals.

“The method has grow to be pricey, cumbersome and requires a whole lot of kind filling that not everybody can negotiate,” she mentioned. “A blanket pardon is the one factor that will have any actual influence.”

NDP MP Don Davies mentioned that the cumbersome nature of the course of to use for a document suspension is daunting the individuals who want it most.

“The individuals who want pardons, notably from pot costs, are sometimes the least capable of entry that course of. They’re essentially the most marginalized Canadians — younger individuals, Indigenous individuals and other people of color,” Davies informed CBC Information. 

Blanket pardons

Davies mentioned that the one option to proceed is to supply everybody with a cost on their document associated to hashish a full document expungement.

John Struthers, president of the Felony Attorneys Affiliation, agrees. He mentioned that crimes associated to hashish needs to be erased in a blanket trend, as was finished for individuals with information associated to acts of homosexuality. 

“The federal government for a few years informed us that playing was going to be the basis of all evil and we must always all be put in jail if we did it privately and now they’re within the playing enterprise,” he mentioned.

“For years they informed us that alcohol was the basis of all evil and … now they’re within the alcohol enterprise. The federal government is now within the marijuana enterprise. It is fairly laborious for them … to counsel that individuals traditionally have ethical culpability for one thing [the government is] now profiting off.”

Struthers mentioned the advantages of legalization are not being felt by marginalized and racialized communities — these he mentioned have been most affected traditionally by hashish criminalization.

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