Marijuana Legalization Lessons for Canada from Around the World

Article by Hanna Anderson, Rabble


One major issue remains uncertain: will people currently in jail or with records related to marijuana be pardoned?

Trudeau would not commit to an answer in the House of Commons when asked in late June, but retroactive ameliorative relief may be the solution to the problem.

Why retroactive ameliorative relief could work

Marijuana legalization in Canada is a complex issue and several factors need to be taken into consideration during this process.

First, let’s consider Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege, one of the main principles of the modern rule of law, which prohibits the retroactive application of law, meaning there is no penalty for a crime without a legal regulation. Or simply: you cannot be charged with a crime if it was not a crime at the time.

However, the situation of when something is a crime by law, and over time that law changes, prompts many questions about if it is no longer considered a crime. Do the offenders get legal pardons? Will they have to amend the legislation to deal with specifics? Will they have to amend the legislation to deal with specifics?

Marijuana offenders can only hope that Canada will guarantee retroactive ameliorative relief, which is considered a right in all but 22 countries, including the U.S.

In the U.S., this is further complicated by the fact that relief for convicts (after conviction) differs from one state to another. Retroactive ameliorative relief needs to be specified within state law to take effect, but in general the U.S. does not grant retroactive relief.

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