Article by Daniel LeBlanc, The Globe and Mail
A clear majority of Canadians want the federal government to issue pardons to fellow citizens who have a criminal record for marijuana possession, a new poll has found.
The survey stands to buttress the call of marijuana activists, lawyers and politicians who argue that the old criminal records will be a legal anomaly once marijuana is legalized for recreational use by all adults.
The federal government tabled legislation last month that aimed to legalize marijuana by the middle of next year. Despite widespread pressure, the government has refused to call on law enforcement to stop charging marijuana users with simple possession while the legislation goes through Parliament, or to promise an amnesty for past convictions after the adoption of the new law.
According to a poll by The Globe and Mail/Nanos Research, however, 62 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support the calls for a pardon for every person with a criminal record for marijuana possession. By comparison, 35 per cent of respondents said they oppose or somewhat oppose the move.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a public forum organized by Vice Canada last month that the current system was unfair, leaving vulnerable and marginalized Canadians more likely to end up with criminal records than those from privileged backgrounds. However, he stopped short of promising an amnesty.
“We’ll take steps to look at what we can do for those folks who have criminal records for something that would no longer be criminal,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Last year, a C.D. Howe Institute report urged the government to pardon everyone who has been convicted of marijuana possession, pointing out even a minor possession conviction severely limits a person’s ability to work and travel.