Cannabis Pardons 101: What You Need to Know

Article by Sarah Leamon, Cannabis Life Network


The federal government rolled out Canada’s new streamlined process for cannabis pardons this morning, and here are the big answers to the Five W’s of cannabis pardons.


The government estimates that upwards of 250,000 Canadians have past pot-related convictions, but you may be surprised to learn that the parameters for who is eligible for a pardon are limited…extremely so.

The only people who are eligible will be those people who were convicted of a simple possession charge involving cannabis in Canada. This means that those who have been convicted of simple possession, for personal use only, will be considered, to the exclusion of everyone else.

Other non-violent cannabis offenders, like those with convictions for possession with the intent to traffic, are ineligible at this time.

Oh, and one more thing: applicants must have already served their sentence in full prior to making their application for a pardon.

So, if you are mid-way through your probationary order…it’s best to hold off.


Under this process, what we colloquially refer to as a pardon is actually called a cannabis record suspension.

cannabis record suspension essentially seals the record of conviction, which allows a person to access more employment, educational and housing opportunities. It also allows them to travel internationally without as many worries and opens up the doors for volunteer positions which may otherwise be precluded due to the stigma of a criminal record.

However, a cannabis record suspension does not actually erase a conviction. The conviction is still there…it’s just not as visible.

This process does little more than simply set aside the conviction, signalling to authorities that the person – although once convicted – deserves another chance, without the barrier of a conviction before them.

This is distinctly different than an expungement, which serves to delete a past criminal conviction altogether.

While the NDP has called for expungements for non-violent cannabis offences, the Liberal government has refused to concede to their demands. They argue that expungements should be reserved for offences which would be constitutionally invalid and violation Charter Rights today, such as offences related to the past criminalization of the LGBT2Q community.

Which approach is the right one will surely be a topic of much debate for years to come.


While pardons were always on the table for non-violence cannabis offences, like simple possession, this process is available due to the federal legalization of cannabis.

Our government simply feels that it’s the right thing to do.

In creating this new, steam-lined process, they have eliminated long wait times, as well as the administrative filing fee in the amount of $631, which would normally apply to a pardon application.

Read the full article here.

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