Can Canada Undo Injustice Of Cannabis Possession Convictions?

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Can Canada undo 'injustice' of cannabis possession convictions? Potential amnesty for those convicted of cannabis possession gains steam amid plans to legalise recreational marijuana. by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours

Annamaria Enenajor says it’s about righting a wrong.

The Toronto-based lawyer is among a group of other professionals and activists leading a campaign to get the Canadian government to grant amnesty to those with simple cannabis possession convictions on their records.

With Canada planning to legalise recreational marijuana by July 1, amnesty would address an “historic injustice” that has affected hundreds of thousands of people across the country, Enenajor said.

“We find it particularly unjust because we know that the individuals who are most impacted by the criminalisation of cannabis are people who are vulnerable members of society and marginalised and racialised members of society,” she told Al Jazeera.

Launched earlier this month, the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty wants the federal government to grant a blanket pardon to Canadians convicted of minor cannabis possession.

It hopes to get 5,000 signatures on an online petition to get the government to enact amnesty legislation.

Having their convictions expunged would help members of already disadvantaged communities – especially black and indigenous people – find better jobs, access social services and social housing, and travel freely, Enenajor said.

However, in its current form, the bill to legalise recreational cannabis in Canada does not address amnesty for past convictions.

“It shows that the impacts that decades of criminalisation has had on individual lives are really an afterthought for the government – and it should be front and centre,” Enenajor said.

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