Article by Jim Bronskill, Hamilton Spectator
The federal plan to legalize recreational marijuana does not include the general amnesty for past pot convictions some would like to see, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
Newly tabled legislation would allow people 18 and older to publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in non-dried form.
But the Trudeau government is not considering a blanket pardon for people with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug, Goodale said in an interview.
“That’s not an item that’s on the agenda at the moment.”
The government has also made it clear that the move to legalization by mid-2018 doesn’t mean lax law enforcement during the transition period.
“It is important to note that as the bill moves through the legislative process, existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected,” Goodale told a news conference last Thursday.
“This must be an orderly transition. It is not a free-for-all.”
The NDP has called on the government to immediately decriminalize simple possession, calling it a logical first step that would prevent young people from being burdened with criminal records for the rest of their lives.
The C.D. Howe Institute, a prominent think-tank, has recommended the government consider pardoning people convicted of pot possession — and drop any outstanding charges — to free up much-needed resources for legalization.