Canadians from all walks of life gathered together to create the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty. It aims to influence the Canadian government to pardon individuals with records of minor marijuana possession charges.
Canada is planning to legalize the adult use of cannabis later this year. Activists are saying that it is also about time to address the “historic injustice” that convictions of marijuana-related crimes have done in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the country.
Launched early this May, the group Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty aims to influence the Canadian government to grant a blanket amnesty to Canadians who were convicted for minor marijuana convictions.
Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is gathering 5,000 signatures online in an appeal to the Canadian government for it to enact the amnesty legislation.
The organization said that having those records wiped out will help members of the disadvantaged communities. They especially noted those from the colored neighborhoods who are having a hard time looking for work, get access to social services, or have the rights to travel more freely.
So far, the bill that aims to legalize the adult use of marijuana in the country does not mention anything regarding any amnesty programs for those charged with small cannabis possession convictions in the past.
It is only in Ottawa were the officials stated their plans of studying the issue of amnesty once the law is enacted later this year.
Bill C-45 is the proposal that aims to decriminalize the adult use of cannabis countrywide and it passed the second reading in the Senate last March. This bill sets out a comprehensive guideline to regulate the industry that includes the companies that are licensed to sell marijuana products.
It also states that it is legal for adults to possess and share up to thirty grams of marijuana.
Local territories and provinces of Canada are the ones tasked with implementing the control of cannabis sales, the creation of local policies regarding home-grown marijuana plants, and other things related to the plant.
In January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted that the current system is not perfect. He concurs that it still treats those convicted for small possessions as criminals although it shouldn’t be the case. But he also said that it will be an engagement they will look into after a controlled regime is in place.
Canada’s current system instructs individuals who were convicted for possessing up to thirty grams of marijuana to apply to the Parole Board of Canada for the suspension of their criminal record. Although they can do this, they have to wait five years after they completed their sentence.
Sixty-two percent of Canadians back the amnesty.
According to a May 2017 survey commissioned by The Globe Mail, a Canadian newspaper provider, more than half of the people they asked said they approve pardoning individuals with marijuana possession charges.
Some of the supporters of the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty said that giving amnesty to the individuals whose lives were changed is not enough especially to those who have been damaged by the drug war the most.
Matthew Green, the city councilor of Hamilton, Ontario said that marginalized groups should be helped and encouraged to join in what he calls the Green Rush.
He also added that big pharmaceutical firms and those with connections in the government are the only ones who will significantly benefit from the current system.
“Why is it that some people in working-class and racialized communities will be criminalized for it, where corporate-class or financier-class political cronies are going to see profit from it?” Green asked in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Annamaria Enenajor, a lawyer and one of the leaders of the campaign said that it is important to look back and ask the question of whose lives have been perturbed by the flawed system as Canada moves forward.
Enenajor also added that the proposed bill that may soon become a law in Canada is a significant point not only in the country but for everyone worldwide because, in some way, it shows that completely criminalizing is not the right method of solving any social problem.