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What to Know About Pardons for Cannabis Possession Convicts

On March 1, 2019, the Canadian Government ushered in Bill C-93 which allows Canadians who have served their sentence for simple cannabis possession to apply for a pardon or a record suspension without processing fees or waiting periods. This initiative helped these minor offenders get back into society by having more job opportunities, housing options, educational programs, and community volunteering.

Simple possession and pardon benefits

A Canadian is charged with simple possession if they own substances like cannabis but for personal use only. The charges are then upgraded to trafficking if there is an intention to sell the drug.

Meanwhile, a pardon grants the criminal record suspension of an individual who has completed their sentence and proved that they have followed the law for a specific number of years. A pardon removes the person’s criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre database and separates their record from the others.

The removal of the criminal record helps pardoned individuals enjoy rights to education and employment. However, the pardon can remove the records with federal organizations as per the Criminal Records Act. Provincial and municipal criminal justice agencies often follow suit once they are notified about the record removal.

Only the Minister of Public Safety can disclose suspended criminal records. They are not asked for during background checks for education, employment, loans, and passport creation. 

What does this legislation mean for convicted offenders?

This proposed bill means that the waiting period for pardon application and subsequent fees are waived for those who have been convicted only for simple possession of cannabis. The Parole Board of Canada will grant the pardon once the individual has completed the sentenced and has not been charged for another criminal case before the pardon.

Why are pardons for this type of offence not automatically granted?

This system allows the Parole Board of Canada to gather complete and up-to-date information regarding the applicant’s criminal history. It helps them determine whether or not simple cannabis possession is the only offence that the individual has ever committed. If that is not the case, the individual’s criminal record is retained.

Can a pardoned individual journey to another country?

A pardon does not automatically reinstate the person’s ability to visit other countries because of the differing laws. However, those who have received pardon can access certain records to prove that their criminal record for simple cannabis possession has been removed. Depending on the decision of the immigration officer, that will only be the time when the individual is allowed to travel.

Is a pardon different from an expungement?

A pardon breaks down the barriers that previously blocked the offender from reintegrating into society. It reinstates their privileges of getting the job that they aspire or buying their dream house. On the other hand, expungement is granted only to individuals who have been charged under a law that must not have existed. Approved expungement requests permanently delete the person’s record from the federal database.

While pardon applications for previous simple cannabis possession offenders are waived, the same process stays for other offences. If you have served your sentence for these criminal charges, don’t delay your pardon application and seek the help of an agency that can help you with the process.

If you’re looking to know more about Canadian pardon services, get in touch to see how we can help!

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