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e-3974 (Justice)

Initiated by Claudia Palacios from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • More than three years after the legalization of cannabis in Canada, less than 1,000 cannabis-related pardons have been granted;
  • Approximately fifty thousand Canadians are still struggling with pre-legalization nonviolent cannabis possession charges, heavily limiting their abilities to find employment, housing, volunteer or travel;
  • Jurisdictions, such as New York, have implemented an automatic expungement process to those convicted of pre-legalization possessions and providing them with the first opportunity to open cannabis dispensaries and brands;
  • The U.S. House of representatives approved the MORE Act to remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substance Act and establish an expungement process for prior federal cannabis convictions;
  • The cannabis industry now generates more than $8 billion for the Canadian economy and was built up by those currently incarcerated, with prior convictions preventing them from working in the legalized recreational and medicinal industries, and continues to unfairly discriminate those with minor infractions; and
  • An act to provide a no-cost, expedited record expungement for nonviolent cannabis convictions is an essential first step for the federal government to recognize the impact of holding criminal records for something that is now legal and disproportionally affects marginalized communities that are trying to move on with their lives.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to immediately table legislation to provide an automatic expungement to all Canadians living with nonviolent cannabis convictions.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Pam Damoff, M.P.

The Government continues to deliver on its promise to work toward removing the stigma associated with convictions forsimple possession of drugs.

Originally introduced in Parliament on December 7, 2021, Bill C-5, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the ControlledDrugs and Substances Act (CDSA), was amended in September to address concerns about the ongoing stigma associatedwith a record of conviction for simple possession of drugs. It now specifies that past convictions under section 4(1) ofthe CDSA for possession of controlled drugs must be kept separate and apart from other criminal convictions within twoyears of the Bill’s coming into force. For convictions after the coming into force, the record of conviction must be keptseparate and apart from other criminal convictions two years following sentence completion. This amendment isconsistent with the underlying objective of the Bill to address the negative consequences associated with simplepossession. The amendment acknowledges the calls from public health organizations and those who work withindividuals with addictions. It helps address barriers to successful reintegration into society and also helps address acontributing cause of the ongoing opioid crisis, namely the stigmatization of people who use drugs. Bill C-5 received Royal Assent on November 17, 2022.

Criminal records have a lasting impact on the ability of rehabilitated individuals to successfully reintegrate into societyafter overcoming personal challenges in their lives. Treating simple possession of drugs as a health and social issuemeans eliminating the stigma associated with convictions for simple possession.

Open for signature
April 19, 2022, at 4:29 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 19, 2022, at 4:29 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre)
February 15, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01144)
Government response tabled
March 31, 2023
Photo - Matthew Green
Hamilton Centre
New Democratic Party Caucus