Article by Kevin Maimann, StarMetro Edmonton
A national advocacy group is backing MLA Derek Fildebrandt’s call to grant full pardons to Canadians convicted of simple marijuana possession.
Fildebrandt, an independent MLA, raised the issue in Alberta’s legislature Monday, asking the government to pressure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to grant pardons as the issue falls under federal jurisdiction.
“That would be awesome if they could do that, if they could exert a little bit of pressure on the prime minister to get that ball rolling,” said Carolyn Tinglin, president of the National Association of Cannabis Professionals.
Tinglin said Black Canadians and other marginalized communities have been disproportionately convicted of cannabis crimes and are still suffering the social and financial consequences.
“The bottom line is, we are discrediting and further marginalizing individuals when we’re sitting in an environment where cannabis is legal and yet they are still affected,” she said.
Tinglin said Alberta’s retail regulations are more equitable than in other provinces, as the Alberta government has stated that a minor marijuana possession charge will not automatically disqualify someone from owning a cannabis shop.
Still, she said cannabis charges can be a major barrier for many who are interested in various roles within the industry but face criminal background checks.