Last week Canada had a historic moment when the federal government passed legislation to officially legalize marijuana across the country, and now the federal government is exploring the possibility of pardoning people with criminal records for marijuana possession.
Statistics Canada reports that 17,733 people were charged with marijuana possession in 2016, although the number of police-reported marijuana offences are declining. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told The Canadian Press that, "they will examine how to make things fairer for Canadians who have been previously convicted for minor possession offences.”.
"Inaccessible pardons can be a significant barrier to good employment as many positions require criminal record checks," a spokesperson for Goodale said. "We want to ensure that the waiting period, fee and purpose of the program are fair, proportionate and productive."
Throughout the process leading up to marijuana legalization the NDP party repeatedly pushed for the decriminalization of marijuana even before it became officially legal, with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh calling marijuana criminalization "completely unacceptable."
The new law will monitor the production, safety standards and distribution of marijuana, banning the sale of it to anyone under the age of 18. However, the government has made a point of cautioning Canadians to continue to follow the current law that upholds marijuana as illegal, reminding Canadians that official legalization does not take place until October 17th.