‘We don't think it's fair’: Group calls for expungement of small cannabis convictions
A group calling for new legislation surrounding cannabis convictions stopped in Edmonton Saturday as part of a cross-Canada awareness tour.
The group, called PARDON, is a partnership between B.C. cannabis producer DOJA and Cannabis Amnesty. It hopes to deliver 10,000 signatures to Ottawa in support of full expungements of minor cannabis convictions.
“They're going to take these signatures and present them to Parliament and show that Canadian citizens have a voice,” explained DOJA’s David Duarte.
Duarte said many Canadians with small cannabis convictions struggle to find work, housing, or volunteering opportunities.
“We don't think it's fair that they still have this on their record and they're still marginalized.”
According to 2014 figures, almost 500,000 Canadians have criminal records for having less than 30 grams of cannabis prior to legalization.
In February, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale introduced federal bill C-93, which would grant free pardons for some of those Canadians.
However, DOJA’s stance is that a pardon isn’t enough.
“A pardon is actually hiding this on your record, it doesn't actually delete it,” Duarte said. “An expungement is actually deleting this off the record.”
The group says expungement would prevent convictions being reinstated or inadvertently disclosed.
Although expungement is the federal government’s jurisdiction, both Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel and Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan have offered his support of the cause.
“You can't leave people behind, you have to bring everyone up,” Mandel told CTV News while door knocking on Saturday. “One of the ways they could have done that is include expungement in the original legislation.”
While speaking in Calgary, Khan added, “Minor drug possession charges weigh society down, they weigh people down. Especially now that we've legalized cannabis.”
Both parties said they might push for federal action if elected on April1 6.
With files from Timm Bruch