Article by Kieran Delamont, Now Toronto
There’s an uncomfortable truth to reckon with when it comes to cannabis legalization in Canada – for people of colour the damage of prohibition has already been done.
In Toronto, for example, Black men are three times more likely to be charged with simple possession of marijuana than white men. What’s needed now, say lawyers and academics who’ve recently launched the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty, is an amendment to Bill C-45 that will grant pardons to those who have been arrested for simple possession.
“The criminalization of cannabis has done an enormous amount of harm, and the government is not attempting to rectify that harm,” says Annamaria Enenajor, a lawyer with the firm Ruby, Shiller & Enenajor in Toronto.
Enenajor says there are approximately 600,000 Canadians who have a conviction for simple cannabis possession.
But the campaign is not just about pushing for policy to address racial bias in Canada’s prosecution of marijuana laws. Enenajor says the ultimate goal is to help racialized people succeed in the burgeoning legal weed industry that they are currently prohibited from participating in because of their weed records.
“It’s really disheartening to see how people who have had their lives torn apart [are] completely left out of the conversation,” says Enenajor.